Newsletters 2017-18 Focus newsletter, [2] Fall | Page 2

WHAT IS FIT FOR THE FUTURE? PAGE 2 How the referendum makes Anoka-Hennepin Fit for the Future The total cost for districtwide facility construction and renovations will be $249 million, which is what will be asked for in question two on the November ballot. If question two is approved by voters, it will be depend- ent on the approval of question one, which will ask voters for $226.20 per pupil, or approximately $9.5 million annually over 10 years. Those dollars will fund operational needs of the new spaces, and provide relief to class sizes across the district. The tax impact will be about $11 a month for the owner of an average home in Anoka-Hennepin, which is valued at $200,000. A calculator is available on the Fit for the Future website,, for taxpayers to learn their property’s specific impact. Safety and security Thousands of students at nine district schools attend classes in portable classrooms in yards and parking lots because the permanent building they go to doesn’t have adequate space. On Tuesday, Nov. 7, residents of the Anoka-Hennepin School District will have the opportunity to make district schools Fit for the Future by addressing facility needs for students today and in the future. The ballot will include two questions that, if approved, will provide funds for Anoka- Hennepin to create safe and secure learning environments through the removal of portable classrooms; construct additional schools and classroom space where student populations are significantly growing; offer solutions for maintaining quality schools by improving science labs, media centers, and flexible learning areas throughout the district; and address class sizes at all levels — elementary, middle and high school. There are 62 portable classrooms in all, and each and every one of them poses a safety and security risk to students and staff. During the school day, doors to the portables and the school building need to be open so students can access them. If the referendum is approved, additions will be constructed at nine schools: Andover, Anoka, Blaine, Champlin Park, and Coon Rapids high schools; the Washington and Fred Moore campuses of Anoka Middle School for the Arts; River Trail Learning Center at L.O. Jacob; as well as Champlin Brooklyn Park Academy/Jackson Middle School. All to add classroom space, in part, so portable classrooms can be removed and learning environments, such as science labs, can be added. Additional classroom space addressing class sizes Estimated monthly tax impact of proposed ballot questions Taxable market value Question 1 Question 2 Operating referendum increase of $226.20 per pupil $249,000,000 general obligation school building bonds $150,000 $6.21 $200,000 Offsetting decreases in other tax levies Net monthly impact $3.78 ($1.86) $8.13 $8.28 $5.41 ($2.67) $11.02 $250,000 $10.35 $7.05 ($3.47) $13.93 $300,000 $12.42 $8.68 ($4.28) $16.82 $500,000 $20.69 $14.98 ($7.38) $28.29 $750,000 $31.04 $24.33 ($12.00) $43.37 A calculator is available on the Fit for the Future website,, for community members to learn their property’s specific figure. Note: Data provided by Springstead Incorporated. The figures in the table above are based on school district taxes for the proposed referendum only, and do not include tax levies for other purposes. Monthly figures are estimated and may vary by a cent. Across the Anoka- Hennepin School District, more than 80 percent of homes are valued under $300,000. The average home in the Anoka-Hennepin School District is valued at $200,000. According to recent community surveys, large class sizes are one of the biggest concerns residents of Anoka-Hennepin have about the district. During lean years when the School Board had to make adjustments to the budget, the School Board increased class size guidelines. In the years since, the School Board has looked for ways to buy back staff to once again address class sizes, and following the recommendations of the Fit for the Future task force, is looking to do so, in part, with the construction of new schools and additional classrooms. With explosive residential growth in Blaine and Ramsey, if the referen- dum is approved, new elementary schools will be built in those communi- ties, and will allow the at-capacity schools in those areas to address class size issues. Combined with the additions at the other schools, the district will be able to significantly address class sizes. Maintaining quality schools Anoka-Hennepin is well regarded for having wonderful, well-maintained facilities. And it’s not because the district's buildings are new. To the con- trary, the average age of Anoka-Hennepin’s schools is 50 years old. The newest schools — Andover High School, and Oxbow Creek and Rum River Elementary Schools — are nearly 20 years old. Most schools aren’t equipped with adequate learning spaces like science labs and media centers. If the referendum is approved, all district schools — every elementary, middle and high school — will receive improvements to science labs, media centers, and other learning areas. ■ A community engaged: the Fit for the Future facilities task force Anoka-Hennepin has a long history of engag- ing with the community and asking for guidance on the direction the district goes. The last couple years the district also recognized the need for space to accommodate the influx of students new development is causing, as well as the need to remove portable classrooms. In February of 2016, the School Board formed the Fit for the Future facilities task force to look into the matter. The group was made of 32 people from around the district. It included parents, business owners, civic leaders, non-parent members of the community, and staff. Board that the group felt would address the district’s long-term facility needs. The task force was charged with looking into Anoka-Hennepin’s long-term building and classroom needs. Over the course of eight months, the group studied community growth and district enrollment projections, school capacity and condition, future program needs, finance, special education, and a number of other topics. The group also recommended the district go to the community for a bond referendum to enact the recommendations. in Blaine and Ramsey; and there is a lack of modern learning spaces like science labs and media centers in nearly all district buildings, which average 50 years old districtwide. The findings that lead the task force to their recommendations: the continued use of portable classroom spaces, mostly at secondary schools, continue to pose a significant safety and security risk; the district is experiencing a dramatic imbalance of population growth, which is putting significant pressure on schools Throughout Anoka-Hennepin’s 65-year history, countless community groups and task forces have been formed, just like Fit for the Future, and their work continues in that tradition. Its members devoted more than 752 combined volunteer hours toward the task force’s work. In January of 2017, the community task force presented nine recommendations to the School Chief among the recommendations present- ed was the building of safe and secure learning environments through the removal of portable classrooms; construction of schools and addi- tional classroom space where student popula- tions are significantly growing; solutions for maintaining quality schools by improving sci- ence labs, media centers, and flexible learning areas throughout the district; and addressing class sizes at all levels — elementary, middle and high school. The Fit for the Future task force meet in January of 2017 to finalize their recommendations to the School Board, which were formally presented Jan 23. Meeting agendas, minutes and reports on the task force are avail- able on the district website at, including the full and final report. ■