Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why is the district having a Facilities Referendum?
A: The district is asking voters to consider a Facilities Referendum to address several needs, including safety and security at each site, increased space and opportunities for Early Childhood Education, increased space for career and technical education and opportunities, and additional classroom space to accommodate increasing student enrollment (class sizes) at all grade levels. These needs are primary ones for the referendum request, along with a continued emphasis on being able to offer a high-quality education for students and families.
Q: What is the tax impact if the referendum passes?
A: The tax impact on the average-valued home in the district would be [approximately] $10 per month for ballot question 1 and $0.25 per month for ballot question 1 – or less than $11 per month if both ballot questions are approved. The tax impact will vary for each property owner, depending on value of property owned and type of property.Q: How do Marshall's property taxes compare to other Cities?
A: The property tax chart shows how taxes in Marshall compare to other school, city, county and special taxes in area cities.
Q: How has student enrollment increased in Marshall Public Schools?
A: As the table below shows, student enrollment in kindergarten through grade twelve has grown significantly over the past seven years. Supporting the enrollment increase is that the number of kindergarten students is increasing, census numbers for 0-4 year olds are increasing, and the number of students entering 9th grade is increasing. Based on these, and other, factors and using multiple enrollment projection methods and models, we anticipate student enrollment will continue to increase for the next 7-10 years.
Q: How much is [still] owed on the previous referendum?
A: The bond referendum vote occurred on February 18, 2003 and had two questions. The first was for $32 million for building a high school, along with renovating the old high school to a middle school, and the renovation, remodeling, repair, upgrading, equipping and construction of improvements to all our sites and facilities. The second question, contingent on the first one passing, was for $5 million for acquisition and betterment of schools sites and facilities including a performance theatre and additional physical education facilities at the ‘new’ high school. There was a promised match of $5 million from Schwan to make the total project $42M. The term for the borrowing was for 21 years, and the original interest rate was 4.05%. This bond issue was refunded (refinanced) in 2012 at an interest rate of 1.77%, saving the district taxpayers approximately $2.8 million over 10 years. The current balance is $15.925 million, to be paid off as of February 1, 2024.
Q: What is the total debt for the district?
A: Total debt for the school district is $25.4 million, which includes
- $15.925 million for the 2003 facilities referendum,
- $7.9 million for energy conservation and heating/ventilation/air conditioning/dehumidification projects at the middle school, and
- $1.390 million for various leases/purchases including a roofing project and technology.
Q: Will the community, staff, and students have input in the planning and design process after the vote?
A: Input into the planning and design process was started by the initial work done by the Facilities Study Committee. Representatives from the district’s architectural firm met with staff members and administrators from various buildings, grade levels, and departments, seeking input into the specifics of the conceptual designs that have been developed. The input, along with best practices in educational facilities, would be used to finalize the additions, renovations, remodeling, and new construction at each site. Once the vote takes place, there may be opportunities for minor adjustments; however, submission (and anticipated approval) of the Review and Comment document to the Minnesota Department of Education will limit our ability to make wholesale adjustments after that. In essence, what we tell voters would happen with funds from the Building Bond Referendum would need to happen according to plan once the referendum passes.
Q: Do the facility plans included in the Building Bond Referendum provide for enhanced security at each building?
A: Yes. During the Facilities Study Committee process, priorities were developed and input from students, staff, parents, and community members was used to create a list of what was most important in facilities planning. Building safety and security was the second highest priority identified by stakeholders, behind maintaining small class sizes. Consequently, current facility plans are focused on improving student and staff safety, with the most prevalent focus on “controlled access” into each building. The safety of students, staff, and visitors is unquestionably important and will be addressed at each site during renovation, remodeling, and construction.
Q: Why is a new building being proposed on the middle school site, instead of just putting an addition onto the middle school?
A: When discussing various facility options and ideas, the Facilities Study Committee had significant discussion about the possibility of building an addition (for an elementary school) onto the middle school. During these conversations, the committee reviewed the priorities that were identified. One of these priorities was to minimize the number of students at one individual site. Options or ideas that proposed adding a building onto the middle school for elementary students could have meant there would potentially be over 1,100 students in grades 3-8 at or on one “site” at the middle school. The committee felt this many students at one site, especially with the variations of 3rd grade students all the way up to 8th grade students, was not in the best interest of students and did not meet the priority identified by stakeholders as being important. Consequently, the focus of conversations shifted to building a separate building for elementary students, with that building being located somewhere on the middle school site.
Q: Who was on this planning committee and were there other more affordable options discussed as compared to the one chosen?
A: The MPS Comprehensive Long-Range Facilities Planning Committee (Facilities Study Committee) was comprised of approximately 40 people, including business representatives/owners, students, licensed staff, parents, non-licensed staff, school administrators, and board members. The committee met 7 times and forwarded a recommendation to the School Board, which was accepted as presented. During the Facilities Study Committee process, there were several different ideas or options for facilities planning reviewed. Of these options, the committee utilized a prioritized “need list” to determine five for final review, consideration, and discussion. The estimated cost for the recommended plan was $39.415 million, while other plans had estimated costs ranging from $40.1 million to $45.4 million (costs were preliminary and did not include other financial costs, such as the cost of issuing the bonds). Of the final five options considered, the recommended option or plan was the least expensive.
Q: What are those portable classrooms for at Park Side and do we really need them?
A: There are two portable classrooms being used at Park Side. These portables were chosen to accommodate growth in 1st and 2nd grade, to maintain reasonable student to teacher ratios, and because there were no other options available in Park Side. Staff who work with English Learners and Title students were relocated to the portable classrooms, and the space those programs previously occupied were then converted into an additional 1st grade classroom and an additional 2nd grade classroom. During the last operating levy, the district committed to specific class sizes at each grade level, and the portable classrooms are being used so we can honor those class sizes that we remain committed to doing so, whether we have sufficient space or not. So, the short answer is “YES, we really do NEED them!”.
Q: I keep hearing about big enrollment increases but don't see much growth happening in town. Where are all these kids coming from, as I really don't see enrollment growing in Marshall?
A: As previously discussed and illustrated, the student enrollment growth in our district is happening and has significantly exceeded projections. Growth in a community population is often difficult to “see”. There was $36.1 million in building permits in Marshall in 2015, as compared to $32.4 million prior. From 2000 to 2013, the population in Marshall increased by nearly 7%, while the population growth in Lyon County was just over 1% during the same time. These are strong indications that we are a growing community/district. In addition, businesses often expand and hire additional staff during their expansion, yet we may not hear about that growth unless we are “in the loop”. The Red Baron Arena and MARSH are examples of growth taking place in Marshall. Certainly, there are concerns about continued growth in the community, yet we have a progressive Economic Development Authority and city leaders who understand that growth is necessary to maintain a vibrant community where people can and want to work and live.
Q: How do I know if I can vote in the school referendum election?
A: There are a few key components to answers this question.
- You must be at least 18 years of age
- You must be a citizen of the United States
- You must have resided in Minnesota for [at least] 20 days before the election
- You must not have committed a felony that would prohibit you from exercising your voting privileges
- You must live in the Marshall School District. If you are unsure of your school district boundary, please visit: http://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us/. Here you will be able to type in your address to determine the district your property resides in.
Q. I heard that my taxes will be significantly higher than what is being advertised. Is that true?
A. No, that is not an accurate statement. Total debt service taxes will remain relatively constant over time.
- The District’s financial advisors, Ehlers, are recommending a “wraparound” strategy to structure the debt for the proposed bond issue. This strategy will keep the School District’s taxes for debt service relatively stable over time.
- Payments on the proposed new bonds would increase slightly beginning with taxes payable in 2024 and by a larger amount in 2027, but those increases would be offset by decreases in payments on the District’s existing bonds.
- On the graph below, the blue portion of the bars (the estimated tax rate attributable to the new bonds only) is much higher in the later years than it is for taxes payable in 2018 - 2023. This is because the District’s existing debt (red portion of the bars) decreases in 2024 and is paid off after 2026. In short, while the portion of taxes paid on existing and proposed new debt fluctuates throughout the 20 years, total debt service taxes will remain relatively constant over time.
- Approval of both ballot questions will cause an increase in taxes payable in 2018 estimated at $123 per year on a $150,000 home.
- Approval of the bond issue would eliminate or reduce the size of the decrease in taxes that would otherwise occur for taxes payable in 2024 and 2027.
Q. Can you tell me how much the referendum would cost me each year?
A. Because there are so many factors that can cause changes in tax impact over time, it is impossible to accurately project tax impact for specific parcels of property in later years, especially 10 to 20 years from now.
- To clarify the impact of the planned “wraparound” structure in more detail, we have included a table showing very preliminary estimates of the tax impact for principal and interest payments on the District’s existing debt and the proposed new issue, by year, for a home with an estimated market value of $150,000. These calculations are based on very specific assumptions, detailed below the table. These are the same assumptions used in the debt schedule that is included in the “Review and Comment” document which was submitted to the State.
- It is certain that not all the assumptions will hold true from now through 2037; the actual tax impact will inevitably be different from the estimates shown on the next page. The estimates are particularly unreliable for the later years. But because Ehlers has used conservative assumptions in the estimates – particularly the assumptions about growth in the District’s tax capacity, the interest rate, and refinancing of debt – we believe it is likely that the actual tax impact will be less than these estimates.