BP votes in favor of referendum

Published 1:37 pm Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Voters in the Blooming Prairie School District on Tuesday approved a pair of bond questions that will allow them to expand their facilities at both the high school and elementary schools to meet a growing enrollment.

Voters approved the $27.9 million bond 606-383, while the $6.4 million bond passed by a margin of 571-391.

The $27,590,000 bond money will go toward additional high school facility improvements that will include a 450-seat performing arts addition and elementary facility improvements.

The $6.4 million bond will be put toward an additional gymnasium at the high school that will better accommodate physical education, student activities and community use.

“We are very fortunate to have community support for our students and our school system. Blooming Prairie is a great community,” said Superintendent Chris Staloch said in an email to the Herald. “Having both questions pass is a huge boost to our school system and the opportunities that we can provide our students at Blooming Prairie Public Schools. We are excited for our students, our staff, and our community to have the ability to continually improve our educational system in Blooming Prairie.”

These renovations will allow BP to approach educating their students in a more well-rounded approach.

“We will have excellent learning spaces for our students. We will have space to expand programs and to add additional classrooms as necessary,” Staloch said. “This will also allow us to utilize our current spaces as they were originally intended to be used.”

As an example, Staloch pointed to the art room at the elementary being moved into an upstairs classroom as well as utilizing the entire cafeteria space at the school for breakfast and lunch.

“This will free up gym space to provide more opportunities for extracurriculars and give our fine arts an excellent facility to practice and perform in,” Staloch continued. “The renovations and additions will allow us to provide further educational opportunities to our students.”

In particular, the new facilities will expand Career and Technology Education (CTE), which has been a growing need within the district.

“Industrial tech is the main area looking to add some programming,” Staloch said last week before the Tuesday vote. “We’re seeing an increase of interest in that area. We’ve made some connections with Riverland and we went down and toured their facilities in Albert Lea to get some ideas.”

The need for the referendum came as the BPSD was dealing with an increasing enrollment over the last five years at a pace of 4% annually, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the referendum passed, work begin as soon as this school year is over.

“Our plan is to start work next summer and finish all phases of the project in the summer of 2024,” Staloch said. “We will begin planning for the construction phase in the next couple of weeks and include a variety of stakeholders in that process.”

Other results:

  • Hayfield voters passed the schools operating levy to $562.26 per pupil Tuesday night with 69% of the vote, 394-179.
  • Janelle Wollenburg will be the newest member of the Lyle Public Schools Board. She ran unopposed and garnered 29 votes.