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Crosby-Ironton Public Schools will be hosting two open houses to provide information regarding the upcoming bond referendum election to be held on November 5, 2019.

The first open house will be Monday, September 30, 2019 starting at 7:00 p.m. in the Crosby-Ironton High School Forum Room. The second open house will be Thursday, October 3, 2019 starting at 7:00 p.m. at the Cuyuna Range Elementary School.

There will be an opportunity to meet with the District’s financial advisor to get information on the property tax impact and to meet with the District’s architects and construction managers to get more information on the proposed renovation and repair projects. Tours of the facility will also be available.
open house

News

July 27, 2019 - Brained Dispatch

CI School District Prepares for November Referendum

CROSBY -- Despite 2019 being an off-year for elections, Tuesday, Nov. 5, will be a big day in the Crosby-Ironton School District, as voters will head to the polls to decide on a $29.56 million referendum.

If approved, funds from the one-question ballot measure will pay for facility upgrades and maintenance, along with some technology advancements.

Of the $29.56 million requested, $2 million would go toward a capital projects levy to fund technology upgrades over 10 years. The rest of the sum would be issued in bonds, with $10 million issued over 10 years for facility maintenance, and the remaining $17.56 million issued over 20 years for facility upgrades, including the remodeling of various spaces at both Cuyuna Range Elementary School and Crosby-Ironton High School, which houses grades 7-12.

Input from students, teachers, residents, business owners and other community members has been taken into account over the last year to develop a plan that prioritizes facility maintenance, Superintendent Jamie Skjeveland said.

“Let’s make sure that we’re maintaining this joint,” Skjeveland said during an interview Friday, July 26, noting some updates and remodels are needed as well.

Elementary school

Cuyuna Range Elementary School in northeast Crosby dates back to 1988 and was built with an open classroom concept, meaning classrooms for each grade level were built in pods around a common space and without doors.

“There’d be five classrooms, and it’s all open,” Skjeveland explained, noting loud noises -- like a movie playing -- would travel from one classroom into the rest, disrupting the learning environments.

A few years ago, the district remodeled the kindergarten, first and second grade rooms, adding hallways and doors to help mitigate noise levels, which Skjeveland said was a success.

“We have seen significant improvement in student learning because there’s just less distractions,” Skjeveland said.

Under the referendum, the classrooms for grades 3-6 would undergo the same changes.

A reconfiguration of the performance center at the elementary school may be in the cards as well, as right now, when guests enter the school, they have to walk all the way around to the other side of the performance center to find the doors. Instead, Skjeveland said designers are looking at the idea of moving the stage to the other side of the auditorium and bringing the doors near the school entrance so it’s more convenient for guests.

They’re also exploring various concepts to turn the school’s media center into a more modern, 21st century space.

Outside, the bus drop-off loop at the elementary school would be reconfigured into an overflow parking lot for special events, as the current parking space is not big enough to accommodate everyone, meaning guests often have to walk a long way.

“We’re not designed for events at all,” Skjeveland said.

The bus drop-off would remain in the same place.

The baseball field at the elementary school would see new dugouts and chainlink fence.

Junior/senior high

One of the biggest pieces of feedback Skjeveland said he received from students was the need for more color in the mostly beige building.

Next, Skjeveland wants to bring Crosby-Ironton High School into the 21st century through projects like adding more collaborative spaces and updating career and technical education equipment.

Various parts of the school date back to the 1930s, ‘50s, ‘70s, ‘80s, with the newest additions built in 2005.

The junior locker bay would be converted into a junior/senior collaborative space for students to work together on projects or just have an area to hang out.

Right now, Skjeveland said students are making do by sitting in doorways.

“There’s nowhere for them to sit and collaborate, and we live in a world where success depends on how often we’re collaborating,” he said.

That new collaborative space would have large windows looking into what is now the library, which would turn into a makerspace of sorts, with areas for fabrication labs, mechatronics, 3-D printing and other modern technology. Mechatronic engineering combines the fundamentals of mechanical, electrical and computer science to develop autonomous systems, according to the University of New South Wales. The windows would act as viewing portals so students in the collaborative space can see what kind of high-tech projects their peers are working on.

The library as it stands, Skjeveland said, barely gets used despite it being one of the biggest rooms in the school.

“If this is the largest space in our school, we want this place packed,” he said. “We want as many students using this space as possible.”

Aside from the high-tech equipment planned for the space, Skjeveland said designers have explored options like a coffee shop of sorts to offer beverages for students.

The furniture would also be updated, with a recent experiment showing students are more drawn to modern-looking furniture with built-in charging stations or comfortable lounge chairs versus the old wooden tables and chairs.

“If that’s what kids want, we should be providing that for them,” Skjeveland said.

All the books in the library would then be moved and integrated into various spaces instead of just sitting in one spot.

“Kids shouldn’t have to go somewhere to go do books. So if we have history books, we want them up near the history department,” Skjeveland said, explaining they’d also be in locker bays, collaborative spaces and other areas.

The same goes for computers, with labs becoming a thing of the past, Skjeveland explained.

Over in the career and technical education area, which includes woodworking, metals and automotive, Skjeveland said much of the equipment dates back to the 1970s or ‘80s.

“We need to make sure our kids, our students, are working on tools and using resources representing the 21st century, not the 20th century,” he said.

The walls and ceilings of the spaces are in good shape, so Skjeveland said they would ideally keep the structure of the rooms but essentially bulldoze the interiors and get all new equipment.

Also structurally sound are the old Woock gym and the performance center, which date back to 1938. The main change planned for the gym is either the removal or remodeling of the bottom level of the bleachers, which is a soft cushion material, odd to step on while walking up the bleachers, Skjeveland said, and jutting out very close to the sidelines during basketball games.

Other changes to athletic spaces include air conditioning in the newer Ranger gym, updates in the locker rooms and a bigger weight room. The cardio equipment would be moved into the vacated computer lab, creating more space in the weight room without building any additions.

The high school’s cafeteria would be remodeled into a more inviting space and in Skjeveland’s mind be more conducive to families and those who spend time there on the weekend for sports tournaments.

“Families, they want a place to nest, a place to be,” he said. “And so under the new design there’s going to be a place for families to sit, to be comfortable, to lounge.”

Lastly, if the referendum passes, the trophy cases at the high school would essentially cease to exist, with a plan to replace them with interactive touch screens for curious alumni to look up statistics from all the past sports teams -- wins, losses, championship titles -- and see virtual renderings of the trophies and awards.

As for the physical trophies, Skjeveland said he would reach out to alumni to see if there’s any interest in keeping the awards.

Tax impact

If the referendum passes, property taxes will remain unchanged for many residents and will increase a little for other residents and business owners.

The estimated property tax difference are as follows:

Residential up to $200,000: No change.
Residential between $350,000-$500,000: Increase about $0.08 a month, or $1 a year.
Commercial up to $300,000: Increase about $0.08 a month, or $1 a year.
Commercial, $500,000: Increase about $0.16 a month or $2 a year.
Commercial, $1 million: Increase about $0.33 a month, or $4 a year.
Seasonal up to $200,000: No change.
Seasonal between $300,000-$500,000: Increase about $0.08 a month, or $1 a year.
Seasonal between $750,000-$1 million: Increase about $0.16 a month, or $2 a year.
Agricultural properties would see increases of less than $1 a year, with homesteads valued at $6,000 per acre increasing $0.15 a year and non-homesteads of the same value increasing about $0.30 a year.

The reason the tax change is minimal is because taxpayers are still paying off the 2002 bond referendum, in which voters approved funds over 20 years to build the new portions of the high school, which were finished in 2005. The remaining debt from that measure -- which expires in 2023, would be refinanced and absorbed into the new referendum, keeping property tax rates consistent with the past 17 years.

“If you own a home, it’s like refinancing a house,” Skjeveland said.

More information

“We want to make sure our public is educated on what this referendum is all about,” Skjeveland said.

Once school starts, Skjeveland plans to attain that goal by going out into the community, visiting with businesses and service groups to explain what the referendum is all about.

For referendum updates, follow the Crosby-Ironton School District on Facebook or Twitter. For more information or questions, contact Skjeveland at jskjeveland@ci.k12.mn.us or 218-545-8817.



July 24, 2019 - Crosby Ironton Courier

C-I School Board approves bond referendum for November

Bond and capital levy would address facility and technology challenges

The Crosby-Ironton school board unanimously approved a one-question ballot for a Nov. 5, 2019 referendum at its July 22 meeting. The district seeks voter approval of a capital projects levy and bond issue to pay for facility maintenance, maximize space utilization, modernize learning environments, and address outdoor space improvements. There will be no tax increase for most properties to pay for these projects as previous debt is being paid off. A few properties may see an increase of a dollar or less per year.

“This is really a community driven project,” said Michael Domin, school board chair. “People helped us identify the highest priority needs and investments to improve the learning environment and help students be better prepared for the workforce.” The district facilitated a facilities evaluation process, assisted by a 60-member community task force, to identify needs and review the proposed project.

Facilities challenges

Through the facilities evaluation process, which was assisted by an architectural firm that gathered input from students, district staff and community members, a series of challenges were identified and prioritized. The process found that student learning is disrupted by facilities challenges, including:

●Open elementary classrooms that are loud and disruptive;
●Spaces in the performance and library areas that are not conducive to group collaboration and project work, a staple method of learning in the 21st century;
●Career and technical education classrooms have outdated equipment, ventilation, plumbing, lighting and electrical systems, and equipment.


“Cuyuna Range Elementary School was built in 1988 with an open classroom concept,” said Dr. Jamie Skjeveland, superintendent of Crosby-Ironton Schools. “Unfortunately, that 1980’s style school design does not align with a 21stCentury classroom that maximizes student learning. Noise from five classrooms leak into the other classrooms located within the same pod – it is very noisy and very distracting.” A few years ago, the district was able to remodel kindergarten, first and second grade classrooms, which generated favorable results within the first year. The remainder of the building is proposed to be updated.

The process also found a number of issues with long-term maintenance. Roofs, skylights, flooring, ceiling tile, elevator, lighting, restrooms and infrastructure are at or nearing the end of their useful life. Athletic field fencing and site grading are deficient, one baseball field lacks dugouts and road access, and stadium bleachers are not ADA compliant. Redesigning the bus loop at CRES will enhance the safety for students, as well as create overflow parking for events that happen throughout the year.

In addition, the pace of change in technology is evolving quickly. Equipment, educational software, and technology infrastructure require constant upgrades to stay current. While general funds can pay for this increasingly important expense, the state allows for alternative funding through a levy so the district can devote the general fund to educational programs and services.

Proposed referendum solution

The Crosby-Ironton School Board is proposing a one-question referendum to issue bonds to be paid off over 20 years, and to raise $200,000 annually for a capital projects levy.

The bond levy would address facilities challenges, while the capital projects levy would provide a stable funding source for technology infrastructure and equipment for the next ten years.

“It was very important to the school board that any investment we make has as little impact on our taxpayers as possible,” said Domin. “We didn’t feel we could come to taxpayers with this request until the time was right. That time is now as taxes will not increase for the average home owner if this referendum is approved.”

The school district will begin a comprehensive communications effort so voters can make an informed decision. The district will provide information on its website and social media, send information by mail to all residents, host meetings, and make presentations in the community.

For more information, contact Dr. Jamie Skjeveland at jskjeveland@ci.k12.mn.us or 218-545-8817.

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