As needs within the district were identified by experts and discussed with district leadership and community members, the discussion moved from problems to solutions. After several meetings the school board reached three conclusions:
We need to address the most immediate need, the failing heating systems at both facilities.
We need to find a plan that is less expensive than the proposal rejected by voters in 2017.
We need to address the current grade configuration in which has PreK-3 grade and 9-12 grade in the Brandon facility and 4-8 grade in the Evansville facility.
The school board, aided by feedback from the community, decided to move forward with a plan that accomplishes these needs in two steps.
STEP one: improve indoor air quality and replace boilers
The Minnesota Legislature authorizes school boards to make necessary health and safety improvements by using long-term facilities maintenance bonds, backed with a local levy. The school board is using this authority for its highest priority and most urgent project, replacing the Brandon boilers and updating HVAC infrastructure in both the Brandon and Evansville buildings.
The school board decided that this plan will move forward regardless of the results of the referendum – addressing these needs cannot wait any longer because students and staff should not have to wait another year for cleaner air and safer boilers. However, if a referendum question passes, this project can be incorporated into the larger project for efficiency.
STEP two: BOND REFERENDUM FOR EDUCATIONAL AND SECURITY IMPROVEMENTS
Each time residents were asked about our district’s needs, there was more support for putting all students and staff under one roof compared to maintaining two facilities. Feedback from staff underscored the need for a single school facility as well. In addition, a single facility is more cost-effective, safer and allows better coordination of classes and activities.
The cost to renovate and combine our PreK-12 classes into one site is less expensive for taxpayers than the previous proposal.
Ballot question #1
“Shall the school board of Independent School District No. 2908 (Brandon-Evansville) be authorized to issue its general obligation school building bonds in an amount not to exceed $19,915,000 to provide funds for the acquisition and betterment of school sites and facilities to convert the existing Brandon School site and facility into a Pre-K-12 site and facility, including the construction and equipping of an elementary school addition and improvements and an early childhood addition, and the construction of high school renovations and improvements including the construction and equipping of a band and choir addition and improvements for the cafeteria/commons area, classrooms, restrooms, locker rooms and parking lots?”
Ballot question #2
“If School District Question 1 is approved, shall the school board of Independent School District No. 2908 (Brandon-Evansville) also be authorized to issue its general obligation school building bonds in an amount not to exceed $5,300,000 to provide funds for the acquisition and betterment of school sites and facilities, including the construction and equipping of a multipurpose gymnasium addition with locker rooms and dedicated Chargers Kids Club area to the existing Brandon School site and facility?”
brandon and evansville conceptual floor plans
This plan improves education.
All classroom work will be within one building, ending our struggles with managing our current grade configuration.
Classroom spaces will be improved. This includes spaces for early childhood education, special education, career and technical education, music and the arts, general classroom improvements and flexible classroom spaces for larger groups.
If voters approve question two, more usable gym space for classroom programming, student performances and athletics, locker rooms and a dedicated Chargers Kid Club area would be added.
This plan will provide a healthier and safer learning environment for students and staff.
Upgraded security measures will help keep students and staff safe.
Staff will no longer have to travel between buildings during their school day reducing transportation and materials costs. This will also allow for better staff coverage and effective use of prep time.
Updated restrooms and locker rooms for students to use during the day and after school.
A renovated facility will meet federal accessibility standards, making our school usable for all members of our community.
New HVAC and boilers will ensure that our students and staff have a healthy learning environment.
Dedicated bus pick-up/drop-off and parent pick-up/drop-off areas would reduce congestion and create a safer path for students before and after school.
Combining our current facilities is the best financial choice for our district.
Having one school building will be less expensive to maintain in the long term due to reduced overhead expenses and reduced costs of operations and maintenance.
The updated facility and equipment will be more energy-efficient than the two current facilities.
Having a single facility protects our State of Minnesota sparsity aid.
With construction inflation averaging 5-6% and record-low interest rates, it is likely that the cost of improvements will increase if we wait.