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ISD 181: Board approves referendum ballot questions, plan includes $12 million in improvements to Nisswa School

The Brainerd School Board finalized the bond referendum language voters will see on ballots this spring and the cost to taxpayers if each question is approved.

Nisswa Elementary School is part of the Brainerd district. The facilities plan includes $12 million in improvements to Nisswa School.

The Blueprint 181 facilities plan will be presented to voters as three ballot questions Tuesday, April 10, with early voting beginning Friday, Feb. 23. Proposed improvements to buildings is estimated at a total cost of $204 million, though voters would not have to pay the entire amount. The voter-approved portion would be $145.8 million, if approved.

The three ballot questions will be:

• Question 1: Investing in the elementary school buildings and Early Childhood Family Education program for a total cost of $104 million; voter-approved cost is $68.4 million.

• Question 2: Investing in the secondary buildings for a total cost of $93 million; voter-approved cost is $69.4 million.

• Question 3: Investing in a performing arts center for a total cost of $8 million, which would be fully supported by voter-approved dollars.

The third question is contingent on the second question passing; meaning if Question 2 fails, so does the third.

The tax impact for the owner of a district home valued at $156,200 (the median value in the district) would be $7 per month if all three ballot questions pass.

Among the highlights of the board's Blueprint 181 plan are:

• Construction of a new elementary school to replace the current Baxter Elementary School.

• Repurposing the current Baxter Elementary School building to meet the growing demand for early childhood programs.

• Renovation and expansion at Garfield, Harrison, Lowell, Nisswa and Riverside schools to address growing enrollment, education adequacy needs and safety and security concerns.

• Renovation of Washington Educational Services Building for early childhood, Fun 'N' Friends and administrative offices.

• Renovation and expansion of the current Brainerd High School north campus to house grades 9-12, with updated pool and activity spaces.

• Repurposing of the current Brainerd High School south campus for Lincoln Education Center and transitions programs and deconstruction of current LEC building.

• Renovation of Brainerd Learning Center to house expanded alternative programs for middle and high school students.

• Improving parent and bus drop-off/pick-up areas and safety and security at Forestview Middle School.

• Construction of a new performing arts center.

The board gathered input from eight community listening sessions, more than 25 school district staff listening sessions, more than 100 presentation to local community groups and through nearly 1,800 responses to phone and online surveys.

Community members can continue to offer comments, ask questions and find more information about the Blueprint 181 plan by visiting www.blueprint181.org, emailing blueprint181@isd181.org or by calling 218-454-6900.

A schedule of informational presentations about the plan and the bond referendum will be released soon.