Voters approve $275M school construction plan for District 622
Voters on Tuesday approved a far-reaching plan to reconfigure school buildings across the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale district.
The $275 million borrowing plan will finance two new school buildings and seven expansions while closing four existing buildings.
The district said 61 percent of voters and all but one precinct supported the bond election.
The vote will cost the owner of a $200,000 home about $60 in annual property taxes, district officials have said. That figure would be larger but the district is paying off some old construction debt.
Superintendent Christine Osorio said Tuesday night that she had met with 117 groups since December to talk about the plan. Preparations began two years ago, she said, and she got staff and parents to buy in before presenting the proposal to the broader public.
“We spent a lot of time talking to those groups before bringing it forward and actually made some adjustments,” she said. “We built the plan together and that gave us a really good head start.”
Carey Nadeau, a parent who led a vote-yes campaign, said the district’s school buildings are in dire need of improvement.
“We’ve had schools that haven’t had anything done in 50 years. The way that kids learn and the way that teachers teach has changed since then,” she said.
Maplewood retiree Dori Paycer voted no Tuesday morning.
She put both of her sons through the school district decades ago. But she’s anxious about rising city property taxes and the possibility of a big increase to the state’s gas tax.
“Nobody’s helping me,” Paycer said. “I have to decide sometimes between medication and food.”
Property owners will pay off the $275 million in construction bonds over 22 years. After some smaller work this summer, the more substantial construction will begin in spring 2020.
Project highlights are:
- Renovating and expanding North and Tartan high schools and John Glenn Middle
- Demolishing Maplewood Middle and building a new elementary on the site
- Moving elementary students out of Skyview to make room for more middle schoolers
- Closing Oakdale and Webster elementary schools
- Demolishing and building a new Eagle Point Elementary on the same site
- Various renovations, new furniture and improved security and traffic flow