Cambridge-Isanti launches informational campaign on bond referendum

The Cambridge-Isanti School District is launching its informational campaign on the $10 million bond referendum the district is seeking in November.

During the school board meeting Aug. 22, Superintendent Ray Queener outlined the steps the district will take to inform voters about the Nov. 5 referendum.

“My goal is to do everything I physically can so when voters go to the polls in November, they will know what a ‘yes’ vote means and what a ‘no’ vote means,” Queener said. “The district has a long-range capital plan, and this bond referendum addresses the most critical components of that plan.”

Queener explained the district’s long-range facilities planning committee has worked with administration, staff, community members and consultants to develop a plan to efficiently and cost-effectively address the district’s capital needs.

The bond referendum will address safety, security, repairs and maintenance issues across the district.

Safety and security improvements include:

• Building entrance modifications will be completed to provide for secure entry and front office visitor management at all buildings (districtwide).

• Parking lot, driveways and sidewalks will be improved and reconfigured to improve safety for school bus and parent pick-up and drop-off (Cambridge Primary, Isanti Primary, Cambridge Intermediate, Isanti Intermediate, Isanti Middle).

• Bathrooms will be renovated to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act standards for accessibility (Cambridge-Isanti High School).

• Creation of integrated accessible seating at home stadium bleachers to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act standards (Cambridge-Isanti High School).

Repairs and maintenance include:

• Improvements to heating and ventilations systems will be completed in buildings where systems have not yet been upgraded (Isanti Middle).

• Required roofing projects throughout the district (Isanti Primary, Cambridge Intermediate, Cambridge-Isanti High School, Education Center).

• Window and exterior wall issues will be addressed, per the Long Range Facility Plan (Isanti Middle).

• Old underground fuel storage tanks will be removed (Isanti Primary, Cambridge Intermediate, Isanti Middle).

• Improvements will be made to the transportation building.

• Improvements to the existing concessions building to meet health department standards (George Larson Field).

• Aging boiler plants will be replaced with high-efficiency systems (Cambridge Primary, Isanti Primary, Cambridge Intermediate, Isanti Middle).

Queener said each school will have large picture boards displayed to outline the projects that will take place in that specific school if the referendum passes.

He also mentioned an informational brochure will be mailed to all district residents within the week detailing the components of the bond referendum.

If the bond referendum passes, detailed design work for the proposed projects is planned following the

election, with construction beginning in the summer of 2014.

Public informational meetings are planned at each school building from 7-8:30 p.m., with a brief building tour occurring before each meeting at 6:30 p.m.

• Sept. 10: Cambridge Primary School.

• Sept. 12: Isanti Middle School/Minnesota Center.

• Sept. 17: Cambridge Middle School.

• Sept. 18: Isanti Primary School.

• Sept. 24: Cambridge Intermediate School.

• Sept. 26: Cambridge-Isanti High School.

• Sept. 30: Isanti Intermediate School/School For All Seasons.

Public informational meetings will also be held from 7-8:30 p.m. Sept. 25 at the Isanti Community Center and Oct. 2 at the Minnco Center Community Room in Cambridge. Residents are welcome to attend any meeting at any location at their convenience.

As far as tax impact on the school district portion of taxes, if the referendum is approved, voters with a residential homestead taxable market value of $100,000 will see an annual tax increase of $14; $125,000, $19; $200,000, $35; and $300,000, $56.

Carol Hazard, co-president of Education Minnesota Cambridge-Isanti, read a letter on behalf of the teachers union voicing its support for the referendum.

“Our professional organization, EMCI, would like to express its whole-hearted endorsement of the upcoming levy that will assure a safer school environment for the students of the Cambridge-Isanti School District,” Hazard said. “We want to assure the Cambridge-Isanti School Board of EMCI’s full cooperation in this endeavor and we look forward to collaborating with the School Board and the C-I Referendum Committee. EMCI also wants to go on record to the parents of our students that we believe this levy is necessary to protect our children and to continue to move our school district forward.”

Hazard mentioned the teachers union has contributed $1,000 to the C-I CARE Referendum Committee to be used by the committee for the purpose of informing citizens the details of the proposal.

Hazard also thanked the board for the initiative it has taken to propose the referendum and the parents and citizens of the C-I Care Referendum Committee for their commitment to the proposal.

Queener, who has been on the job for 50 days, said he is continuing to meet new people in the community.

“I can’t think of a time in my career where I’ve felt more welcomed and embraced than I have in Cambridge and Isanti,” Queener said. “The folks here are absolutely wonderful, and I feel fortunate to have great people to work with. I’ve been enjoying my time here, and I have appreciated the opportunity to get out into the community to meet so many wonderful people.”

Queener said he has been hearing positive remarks about the school district.

“We have a lot to be proud of in this school district,” Queener said. “The No. 1 thing I hear about is the wonderful staff we have in the district. We have a lot of hard-working folks doing a lot of wonderful things here. It’s fun to hear all the good things people are saying about our organization.”