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Building our Future: Proposal to Address Facility Needs Amid Student Growth

Proposed Changes Would Occur No Earlier Than 2025

Dear South Washington County Schools Community,

South Washington County Schools (SoWashCo Schools) is planning for the future to address community growth and student needs through a 10-year facility planning process. On Thursday, March 3, SoWashCo Schools will propose a districtwide plan to the school board. 

The growth in our communities requires multiple approaches to address the space needs in school buildings including new construction, renovations, repurposing the use of buildings, moving programs and changes to some attendance boundaries. 

As a result of the planning process, the steering committee will recommend one long-range facility package that:

  • Modernizes classroom space  
  • Provides needed renovations (such as common areas, bathrooms, kitchens, cafeterias, etc.)
  • Supports curriculum and instructional delivery methods
  • Addresses transportation and operational facility needs
  • Provides dedicated space for early learning, special education and the South Washington Alternative High School
  • Includes plans on how existing buildings will be repurposed
  • Minimizes the number of changes to school attendance boundaries
  • Invests in current high schools 
  • Sets foundation for future growth through land purchase
  • Creates a funding plan that includes a voter-approved bond referendum on Aug. 9, 2022

Completion of large construction projects and the majority of attendance boundary changes would occur no earlier than fall 2025, pending a successful bond election in August. You can learn more about the proposal, view enrollment projections and review the projects slated for each building or school site at sowashco.org/facilityplanning.

What Happens Next?

  • Attend a community information session
    • In-person: 6-7:30 p.m. | March 15 | Oltman Middle School | 6625 Goodview Ave. S., Cottage Grove, MN 55016
    • Virtual: 5:30-7 p.m. | March 17 | Zoom Link
  • SoWashCo Schools will share the 10-year facility package during school board workshops and business meetings through April 21. View the schedule. 
  • SoWashCo Schools will request board approval of the plan during the regular business meeting on Thursday, April 21.
  • SoWashCo Schools will request board approval for a bond referendum during the regular business meeting on Thursday, April 21.
    • A bond referendum gives voters the opportunity to decide if SoWashCo Schools should be authorized to raise construction funding through the sale of bonds. Bonds allow the district to borrow money that it then pays back over time. This is the only method to raise enough money for new construction and does not take away education funding. If approved by the school board, the ballot question is tentatively planned to go to voters during a special election on Aug. 9, 2022.

Over the next 10 years, more than 3,500 potential new K-12 students are expected to move into the district. If we do nothing, current projections show that 15 schools will be over capacity and we will have a deficit of nearly 2,500 K-12 seats for students by 2031. 

 To learn more about Building our Future: the Long-Range Facility Planning Process, visit sowashco.org/facilityplanning for the proposed plans for each school site, recent school board presentations, projected enrollment, timelines, community information sessions and background information. Thank you for your support as we work to address the expansive growth in our district.

Sincerely,

Julie Nielsen Signature

Julie Nielsen
Superintendent