Owatonna Public Schools

Referendum Update

Superintendent Jeff Elstad shared information aimed at answering questions heard from the community since the failed high school referendum at yesterday’s school board work session.


The information shared included themes collected from the community listening sessions and the community survey, as well as anecdotal feedback received since the failed May 14 high school referendum.


Main themes heard from the community include:

  • Need to revisit and review the remodeling of the current high school site.

  • Need for 2nd opinion of construction costs for remodel and new high school.

  • Need to lower overall cost as individual tax impact is too high.

  • Need a better plan for the current high school site if a new high school on a different location is passed.

  • Need a more robust plan of what the new high school building will look like (design, land, etc).


To review the complete list of listening session notes click here.


Superintendent Elstad was happy to share that the school district has been working hard to address the concerns noted above, and he presented a recommendation for the school board to discuss and consider.


The board work session highlights include:


1. Current high school remodel cost would be $99M.

2. Construction cost for a new high school on a new site would be $104M.

The lowered overall cost of a new high school on a new site was made possible by:

  • Corporate business donations
  • Reducing total square footage by going from 1,700 to 1,600 students

3. Potential for two ballot questions

  • Question 1: New High School

  • Question 2: Re-purpose of current high school (contingent on if Question 1 passes)


A 2nd opinion of construction costs was provided by Kraus-Anderson Construction for the above figures.


Next Steps:

The school board discussed in detail the recommendation proposed by Superintendent Elstad and will be voting on next steps for the district at the Monday, August 12 school board meeting. The meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m. in the district office board room prior to the work session. The meeting is open to the public.


Look for an update on next steps following the board meeting on Monday, August 12.