Barnum eyes school expansion referendum, would not raise taxesA referendum on Tuesday, May 20, will determine whether Barnum Elementary School students will be able to spread out in a much-needed addition in the near future.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
A referendum on Tuesday, May 20, will determine whether Barnum Elementary School students will be able to spread out in a much-needed addition in the near future.
“We’re having quite the growth in Barnum right now and that’s a good situation to have,” said Barnum Schools Superintendent David Bottem. “We’re out of room and need more.”
He attributes much of the population growth in the area to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program expansion in Moose Lake.
In the past four years, the elementary school has added about 60 students. Currently, enrollment sits at 399 students from kindergarten through sixth grade with a total of 715 in grades K-12. Every room in the elementary building is being used, including rooms created in a 1997 addition.
Judging by the recent Kindergarten Roundup, the growth is continuing, Bottem said.
Because of that, administrators will ask voters to approve a proposed addition at Barnum Elementary, which includes three new classrooms and a new administrative office area. The existing office will be remodeled for additional classroom space. In the kitchen, the current freezer will be converted into storage space and a new freezer will be installed.
Although voting yes to the referendum will appear to raise taxes when voters read the ballot, it will not, according to Bottem.
“Voting yes on the May 20 referendum will not increase your property taxes,” he said. “Property taxes for the school will be collected regardless of how you vote. Minnesota law requires us to place the property tax increase language on the ballot because the referendum is for property taxes which will be collected in the future.”
Bottem has been meeting with area residents in the past several weeks to explain the referendum and how it will benefit students without costing taxpayers more money.
Barnum High School, however, is big enough to accommodate the growing student population and is overall in good condition.
“It should not need to be expanded or replaced in the near future,” Bottom said.
The high school will also be paid for in 2012, which could potentially lower property taxes, according to Bottom.
An informational meeting regarding the proposed building addition will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 12, in the Barnum High School auditorium.
On May 20, Barnum residents can cast ballots at the Barnum High School auditorium from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.