Montevideo School Board considers next step after voters rejected bonding for facilities

Montevideo School District residents will be surveyed on their thoughts about the school's facilities needs in the wake of April's bond defeat in a referendum. Montevideo School Board members are looking for the feedback as they decide the district's next step.

The Montevideo School District asked voters on Tuesday to approve bond funds to replace the Sanford and Ramsey Elementary Schools with a new elementary school. The measure was rejected. Tom Cherveny / West Central Tribune

MONTEVIDEO — Board members in the Montevideo School District are looking for the public’s feedback in a district-wide survey before deciding how to proceed in the wake of April's referendum when voters rejected bonding for facilities.

Montevideo School Board members are hoping to have the results of the survey available in June. They intend to take up discussions at their annual retreat and board meeting, both in June, on what course to take, they said during discussions at their meeting Monday evening.

Superintendent Luther Heller told board members that he would be meeting Wednesday with the school’s consultants on preparing the survey, which will soon go out to residents.

Voters in the district rejected a $47.75 million bond request by a 872-to-744 vote on April 14. The funds would have been used to replace the Sanford Education Center and Ramsey Elementary School with a new elementary school and also remodel the Middle School. They also rejected a $13.22 bond request by a 945-to-669 vote to develop a new performing arts center.

The superintendent recommended that if board members decide to return a bond issue to voters, they wait until 2021 to do so. He said there was not enough time to prepare an issue for a vote in August, the earliest the district could bring the issue back to voters. He told members that he also felt there was too much uncertainty out there at this time to bring the issue to voters in the November general election.


Heller said the survey to be sent to all households in the district will look for feedback and should help board members in deciding their next steps. It will not be a scientific survey, as the district had undertaken last year to gauge the public’s tax tolerance for school projects.

The district has identified more than $90 million in facilities needs. The survey in 2019 found support for replacing the two elementary schools. It also found that voter’s tax tolerance was for about one-half the $90 million in overall facilities needs.

School Board members will also be deciding in June when to ask voters to renew a $156.76 operating levy. The superintendent said they should consider bringing it to voters this November. The board has only two opportunities to bring it to voters, this November or November 2021.

The operating levy will expire at the end of fiscal year 2022.

The levy has been devoted to the district’s technology programs, and the funds are critical to maintaining them, according to information presented at the meeting Monday.

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