Voters going to polls for school improvements in Eagle Valleyby Tom Weber, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Voters in one central Minnesota school district are heading to the polls today to decide whether to raise their own taxes to pay for school building improvements.
The Eagle Valley School District operates two schools--in the towns of Clarissa and Eagle Bend--located about 40 miles northeast of Alexandria.
But interim superintendent Jim Madsen said declining enrollment has made it harder to keep both open. The tax vote is for approval of nearly $5 million in upgrades and additions for the Clarissa building. That's where all students would eventually be moved.
"If the bond issue is successful, we'd probably operate two buildings this next year and then we'd hopefully be ready to move into one building the following year," Madsen said.
Madsen said Eagle Valley no longer has enough students to justify two buildings.
"It's tough for a community to lose their building, or their school identity," he said. "But with the enrollment numbers and the cost of operating two buildings, it's become a very difficult situation."
As districts lose enrollment, as Eagle Valley has in recent years, they also lose state funding, which is largely based on enrollment.
The district currently has approximately 310 students; preschool through sixth grades attend the school in Clarissa, grades 7-12 are in Eagle Bend.
The vote would increase property taxes on a $100,000 house by about $200 a year, if approved. Polls will be open Tuesday from noon until 8:00 p.m.