District to seek voter-approved $10 million bond referendum in November

The Cambridge-Isanti School Board will be asking the voters to approve a $10 million bond referendum in November.

During the July 18 school board meeting, the board approved a resolution relating to the issuance of building bonds and calling for a Nov. 5 election.

The question on the ballot will read as follows:

“Shall the school board of Independent District 911 (Cambridge-Isanti Public Schools) be authorized to issue its general obligation school building bonds in an amount not to exceed $10,000,000 to provide funds for the acquisition and betterment of school sites and facilities, including the construction of district-wide safety and security improvements, indoor air quality and building envelope improvements, regulatory and code improvements, and energy efficiency improvements?”

By voting “yes” on this ballot question, you are voting for a property tax increase for the school district’s portion of taxes.

Superintendent Ray Queener explained the goal is to have little or no overall increase on residents’ property taxes if the bond referendum is approved.

He explained final information regarding the impact on property taxes will be presented at the August board meeting.

“The goal is to structure this so there will be no increase to  taxpayers,” Queener said.

As for the Nov. 5 election, one polling place will be open in Isanti and one polling place will be open in Cambridge from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. More detailed information on polling places will be provided at a later date.

Queener noted if the district would have utilized all 17 polling locations in Isanti County, it would have added an additional $30,000 to election costs, and he didn’t feel it was necessary.

The school board has been discussing the $10 million bond referendum for several months. The funding would be used to make improvements that need immediate attention. The improvements affect all the school district buildings and are needed for students’ health, safety and welfare and the buildings’ security and efficiency.

Various projects are being considered if the referendum passes, including office relocations to allow for better security monitoring when visitors enter and leave school buildings.

In his first meeting as superintendent, Queener mentioned things have been going well since he started with the district July 1.

“It’s been a great first three weeks, and staff have been very welcoming,” Queener said. “I’ve had 21 individual meetings with district office staff, board members, etc. I’ve been learning a lot, and the best part of all the meetings is hearing about all the great things going on in the district.”

Board Member Mark Becker resigns

Board Member Mark Becker announced his resignation at the beginning of the board meeting. Becker began his term on the school board in January 2011.

Becker informed the board that due to his new job working for the city of Andover, he and his family have sold their home in the school district and will be moving closer to Andover.

“The past two-and-a-half years have been a great experience for me, and it was truly a pleasure working with the other board members as well as all the staff in the district,” Becker said. “I appreciate all the opportunities the board has given me.”

On behalf of the entire School Board, Chair Tim Hitchings thanked Becker for his years of service.

“Thank you for your diligence and enthusiasm,” Hitchings said. “You always looked out for the best interest of the kids in the school district, and we will miss you.”

The board approved a resolution establishing a procedure to fill Becker’s vacancy by appointment and scheduled a board work session for Aug. 21 to interview applicants.

The board will vote to make the appointment Thursday, Aug. 22, and the selected candidate will be sworn into office that evening. The appointed person will serve out the remaining term ending Dec. 31, 2014.

Applications from school district residents are currently being accepted and are available at the superintendent’s office, 625A Main St. N., Cambridge, or may be downloaded from the district website at www.cambridge.k12.mn.us.

Applications (including a completed application form, cover letter and resume) must be submitted to the superintendent’s office by 1 p.m. Aug. 14. Applications received after the stated deadline will not be considered.

Candidates must be at least 21 years of age, have been a resident of the school district for at least 30 days and have not been convicted of an offense for which registration is required under Minnesota Statute Section 243.166.

Transportation update

Transportation Director Mike Nelson gave his annual report to the board.

Nelson cited several statistics, including that the district has:

• 89 yellow buses.

• Seven Type 3 vehicles (minivans).

• Nine service vehicles.

• Three driver’s education cars.

• Three co-op partner vehicles.

• 111 total vehicles in the district.

• 53 general education routes.

• 17 special education routes.

• Four early childhood special education routes.

• 106 drivers in the district.

• Six full-time employees in the transportation office.

• Drivers drove 915,542 miles last year.

• Current student population is 5,213.

• The district is 251 square miles, putting it in the top third in the state in regard to geographic size.

Regarding cameras on school buses, Nelson said 20 general education buses are equipped with cameras. He said, within three years, all buses should be equipped with cameras.

He also mentioned the district is always looking for more bus drivers.