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Southland voters to go to polls on June 6 to decide school bond

Voters in the Southland School District will go to the polls from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 6, to decide whether or not to spend $24.5 million to renovate the Adams school site and close the elementary school in Rose Creek. Polling takes place in the Southland High School gym.

If approved, all students in grades kindergarten to 12th grade, would attend school in Adams. Southland School District includes, in addition to Adams and Rose Creek, Dexter, Elkton, Johnsburg and Taopi. This year, 449 students attended classes in Southland.

Construction would be done in 2018 and 2019, and would be completed by the opening of school in 2019. The financing would be based on general obligation bonds, which would be paid back in 20 years.

The project is being planned and designed by ICS Consulting of Blaine. Southland Superintendent of Schools Jeff Sampson said at a recent meeting that only the gym and locker rooms in the high school would be untouched by the renovation.

Overall, he said, the Adams School Board thought the plan “was the most cost-effective and best long-term solution” for the issues facing the district.

The work would provide upgrades to the existing middle school and high school in Adams, including mechanical upgrades of HVAC, electrical, and disabled access.

A new, secure main entrance with adjacent administrative areas would be relocated to the southwest corner of the school. A new gym would be added due to the increase in elementary population, and for extracurricular activities.

The southeast classroom wing of the Adams building would be renovated to absorb the K-5 elementary grades. The additional classrooms would be created in the wing by converting the current and kitchen/cafeteria into classrooms.

The plan is one of seven studied by a 31-member facilities task force and later chosen by the Southland School Board as the best to take to the public.

If approved, property taxes would increase based on market value. A residential owner of a home worth $100,000 would experience an increase of $155 a year; someone with a home valued at $200,000 would see taxes increase by $392. An owner of commercial property valued at  $250,0000 would see an increase of $921 a year. Agricultural homestead property with a value of $1 million would have an increase of $1,194.

District officials said it would save approximately $389,548 a year if Rose Creek was shuttered. It had identified some $4 million in deferred maintenance and capital improvements that would have to be done if students remained.

There is a chance that Southern Minnesota Education Consortium, a partnership of seven participating schools that serves the schools’ special education students, may want to have offices in the Rose Creek building.

At the Adam’s site renovations to be completed include:

•Information technology/cafeteria wing that will house STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) activities.

•Renovation of 1917 two-story wing for classrooms, computer labs and support.

•Music classroom renovation.

•Auditorium and stage renovation, and new seating and walls.

•Reconfigure and integrate media center into cafeteria/multipurpose room.

•New kitchen and serving.

•Kitchen equipment allowance.

•Site work, parking improvements.

•Elementary gym addition.