South Washington County Schools (SoWashCo Schools) is planning for the future to address community growth and student needs. Over the next 10 years, more than 3,500 potential new K-12 students are expected to move into the district. Throughout the pandemic, housing developments continued to grow in the district, with a potential for over 5,000 single family homes and over 3,000 multifamily homes to be constructed within the next decade (as of Dec. 2021).
If we do nothing, current projections show that SoWashCo Schools will have a deficit of nearly 2,500 K-12 seats for students by 2031.
Though enrollment slowed during the pandemic, housing developments continued to move forward and are now expected to bring in thousands of new students. Currently, East Ridge and Woodbury High Schools are over capacity with Grey Cloud and Pine Hill Elementary Schools and Oltman Middle School set to be over capacity within two years. Within 10 years and if we did nothing 15 schools will be over capacity, creating challenging learning environments for students.
Source: New homes based on 5,000 single family homes and 3,000 multifamily homes currently being built or planned within 10 years in the SoWashCo Schools boundary. Student estimates based on Davis Demographics formula for student generation rates implemented on current housing developments and demographics over the last 10 years.
What's a Bond Referendum?
A bond referendum gives voters the opportunity to decide if South Washington County 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 funds for new construction and does not take away education funding. If approved by the school board, the ballot question is tentatively planned for a vote during a special election on Aug. 9, 2022.
Throughout the pandemic, housing developments continued to grow in the district, with a potential for over 5,000 single family homes and over 3,000 multifamily homes expected within the next decade.
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 SoWashCo Schools will have a deficit of nearly 2,500 K-12 seats for students by 2031.
East Ridge High School
Woodbury High School
Grey Cloud Elementary
Oltman Middle School
Pine Hill Elementary
Cottage Grove Elementary
Cottage Grove Middle
Liberty Ridge Elementary
Park High School
Red Rock Elementary
South Washington Alternative High School
*Estimates based on Davis Demographics formula for student generation rates implemented on current housing developments and demographics over the last 10 years.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Answers are provided to some of the most commonly asked questions. As the long-range facility process moves forward, this section will expand to provide more information to the community.
Leadership Team: Guides the process for communications, timelines, meetings, etc.
Design Team: Experts working on potential construction plans, costs and site requirements.
Steering Committee: Administrators who review all input to make a final recommendation to the Superintendent.
Task Force: Staff and community members who serve as an advisory and input group for the Steering Committee.
Focus Groups: Established advisory groups that will provide additional feedback to the Steering Committee.
Community Information Sessions: The opportunity for community members to review the preferred plan and share feedback on the data and decisions to help refine the plan before a final recommendation is sent to the Superintendent for board approval.
Steering Committee members include: Julie Nielsen, Superintendent; Dan Pyan, Director of Finance and Operations; Dan Hines, Planner; Kyle Uecker, Director of Facilities; Kelly Jansen, Assistant Superintendent; Kristine Schaefer, Assistant Superintendent; Tyrone Brookins, Assistant Superintendent; Robert Lawrence, Director of Community Education; Anna Braun, Director of Special Services; and Pepe Barton, Director of Communications.
Advisory Role: City of Woodbury; City of Cottage Grove; Marc DuBois, Architect; Chad Martin, Professional Engineer; Shane Butler, Senior Project Manager; Kevin Bohl, Civil Engineer; John Huenink, Vice President Kraus Anderson.
In 2018, the School Board approved a long-range facility planning process. A steering committee and long-range facility task force evaluated enrollment projections, building capacity calculations, housing developments and multiple renovation and construction plans. As SoWashCo Schools prepared to share the plans with the community for feedback in March 2020, COVID-19 arrived and delayed all planning for a full year.
The task force evaluated enrollment projections, current school capacity, city growth plans and construction options. The group, which consists of parents, staff and construction experts, used data to narrow down several options to build, renovate or upgrade schools and facilities across the district. In November 2021, the original task force was revived to review new plans adjusted with post-covid data. Information included newly identified student needs, enrollment projections, building capacity and housing developments.
The School Board approved creation of a long-range facility planning process to identify enrollment projections, building capacity calculations, community growth plans and to collect data.
A steering committee of administrators was created to gather input from stakeholders to help make a final recommendation to the superintendent.
March-Aug. 2019 The steering committee reviewed and collected enrollment projections, building capacities, community growth plans and other important data.
June-Sept. 2019 Facility staff consulted with principals, department leaders, program providers and other internal stakeholders to determine projected facility needs for student learning.
A task force of staff and community members (35+) was created to review enrollment projections, building capacity calculations, community growth plans and collect data in order to provide input on construction options.
Focus groups were held with district advisory groups, school staff and city decision-makers to review construction options and provide feedback.
School construction options were finalized for the community to review.
COVID-19 - Long-range facility planning was put on hold. Scheduled community information sessions for feedback on the school construction options were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leadership and steering committees began to regroup to review new data and plans from the previous facility planning process. Home construction and growth continued throughout the pandemic.
Facility staff consulted with principals, department leaders, program providers and other internal stakeholders to determine projected facility needs for student learning.
Steering and leadership committees reviewed the latest Woodbury and Cottage Grove residential building data and projected housing developments.
Long-range Facility Team updated the school board with current and projected enrollment data and housing developments.
The original task force members (staff and community members) revisited the previous construction plans and reviewed new enrollment projections and housing developments.
The design team and leadership committee revised previous plans to accommodate ongoing growth and new facility and student needs.
Planning begins for a bond referendum election for Aug. 9, 2022, pending board approval.
New plans, enrollment data and timelines shared with the school board and the original task force for feedback.
Plan update shared with the school board.
Plans narrowed to one preferred plan and shared with the school board and community.
Community information sessions scheduled to share the preferred plan and gather feedback.
Request board approval for final long-range facility proposal.
Request board approval to ask voters to consider construction funding through a bond referendum.
Begin sharing election information, tax impact and sample ballots with voters in preparation for the bond referendum.
Special election for the bond referendum to fund construction in the long-range facility plan.
Earliest completed construction of new buildings and boundary changes.