• Referendum 2015

    Frequently Asked Questions

  • FAQ Display

     

    Click on a category to the right or question below to find answers to the most frequently asked questions about the 2015 Bond Referendum


    Referendum Basics


    How is this bond referendum different from a levy referendum?
    While both are considered levies on your property tax statement, they serve different purposes and in some cases are restricted in how the money can be used. It is often said that, "levies are for learning and bonds are for building."
    • BOND LEVIES are the funds the district uses for new construction, renovations or additions to school buildings. These funds cannot be used to run schools, hire teachers or support general operating expenses. Edina Public Schools currently levies $47 million in bond levies because voters approved a bond referendum in 2003. This referendum, which was refinanced in 2011 to save taxpayer money, expires in 2023.
    • OPERATING LEVIES are the funds that the district uses to run and operate its schools. It provides money above the state allocation to be used for day-to-day expenses such as staff salaries, supplies, heating expenses, transportation and co-curricular programs. Edina Public Schools currently levies $13 million in general operating levies because voters approved levies in 2007 and 2011.
    • Edina Public Schools also has a CAPITAL PROJECTS LEVY dedicated to technology. This $4.5 million levy,approved by voters in 2011, supports district technology operations including department staff, hardware, software, network and infrastructure, and training for teachers and staff.

    What is included in this bond referendum?
    The district’s Next Generation Facilities Plan, developed by a 24-member Facilities Advisory Task Force and refined by administration, was unanimously approved by the School Board on Jan. 12, 2015. The plan focuses on three key areas: enhancing building security, improving district infrastructure, and transforming classrooms and learning spaces for the Next Generation.

    How long will this bond be in effect?
    The referendum is seeking authority for a 21-year bond totaling $124.9 million. This is similar to a mortgage on a home loan. Currently, interest rates are quite low and thus it is a favorable time to purchase bonds. Nonetheless, the district continually monitors the bond market and, as it did in 2011 with the 2003 voter-approved bond referendum, would consider refinancing the bonds if it would prove beneficial for taxpayers.

    If the referendum is approved, what happens next?
    If voters approve the bond referendum on May 5, the district would move immediately into a design phase to put detail into the Concept Plan approved by the School Board in January. The design phase would likely last through Fall 2015.

    Bid development and awarding of contracts would occur in Winter 2016, with construction beginning in Spring 2016. It is estimated that the construction phase would last into the 2017-18 school year.

    Will there be another referendum in 2017?
    A current operating levy, approved by voters in 2007, is set to expire in 2017. As it currently provides $1,383.10 per pupil to our general operating fund (approximately $12M), it is very likely the district will seek to renew this operating levy in 2017, but that would not necessarily equate to a tax increase. All of the current voter approved levies are noted on the district website on the Referendum History page. It is also important to note that the bond referendum dollars can only be used for construction/renovation and may not be used for general operating expenses, as the 2007 levy currently supports. (Additional information on current bond, operating and other capital projects levies is noted on the FAQ page.)

    Voter/Ballot Information


    What is the ballot question?
    Sample Ballot

    When and where do I vote?
    The special election will be held on Tuesday, May 5. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Some polling places have been combined or changed locations, so it is important that voters check to see where their precinct is scheduled to vote. You can check the list here or go to the Secretary of State’s poll finder website to find your precinct.

    You may also vote absentee starting March 20. To learn more about absentee voting, click here.

    Are all residents of Edina eligible to vote on the bond referendum?
    No. Only residents of the Edina Public School District are eligible to vote in the upcoming bond referendum. Residents of the City of Edina who reside in other school districts (e.g. Hopkins, Richfield, Bloomington, St. Louis Park) pay school property taxes to their resident districts, not Edina Public Schools.

    Tax Impact/Financial Information


    What happens to my property taxes if the referendum is approved?
    Approval of the facilities bond referendum will have an estimated annual tax impact of $299 on an Edina Public Schools residence with a market value of $400,000. The impact will be greater or lesser depending on the home value. The median market value home in Edina Public Schools for taxes payable 2015 is $441,500, for which the annual tax impact would be $331. For more information about estimated tax impacts, click here.

    How will the bond referendum be repaid?
    As part of its Next Generation Facilities Plan, the district is shifting from a model where resources dictate the kinds of learning programs provided, to one where learning is held as the constant and resources, such as time, talent, funds and space, are variable. In doing so, the district takes a three-pronged approach to updating and creating spaces that advance and support student learning — maximizing current facilities, maximizing finances available to support facility improvements, and minimizing the overall tax burden on property owners.

    By taking into account these three equally important factors, the district comprised a debt repayment plan, developed in consultation with district financial advisers and a community Finance Advisory Committee, that takes into account all existing debt from voter-approved technology and bond levies; non-voter approved levies allowable by the State, such as lease, health & safety, and funding for alternative facilities (deferred maintenance) projects that include a combination of debt service and annual “pay-as-you-go” levies. The 21-year bond repayment is back-end loaded so as to have lower payments through 2024, and then higher payments in later years after existing debt has been paid off. This approach lessens the impact on taxpayers in the earlier years and allows the district to better manage large fluctuations in the tax rate from year to year.

    How does Edina Public Schools manage taxpayer money?
    Edina Public Schools has a history of strong financial management and fiscal stewards, which has been independently verified:
    • Strong Credit Rating (Aaa from Moody’s Investor Services)
    • Recipient of 10 State Financial Reporting Awards
    • Unqualified "Clean" Financial Audit according to the district's independent financial auditors
    • Strong Financial Reserves in alignment with district policy and governmental accounting standards
    • Low debt usage relative to allowable debt under state statute
    • Learn more about the district's financial history here

    Why don't all homeowners incur the same rate of estimated tax increase? It appears as though the bond referendum disproportionally impacts homeowners with higher market value.
    First, it is important to note that the estimated tax capacity rate for the district’s proposed bond issue in 2016 is the same for all properties and is based on the overall bond amount, not individual properties. However, the actual distribution of taxes among property owners is determined by state law (i.e., not under School Board control). For a bond issue, the taxes on individual parcels of property are calculated based on a figure called “Net Tax Capacity,” which is calculated using a percentage of the home’s Estimated Market Value. There are two factors in state law that result in the disproportional allocation of taxes as a percentage of market value.
    1. For residential homesteads with an Estimated Market Value (EMV) of $419,000 or less, a portion of the EMV is “excluded” from the calculation of Taxable Market Value (TMV) and Net Tax Capacity (NTC). For a home with an EMV of $350,000, $5,740 of the value is excluded, resulting in a TMV of $344,260.
    2. Also for residential homesteads, the NTC is 1% of the TMV for homes valued at $500,000 or less. For higher valued homes, the NTC is 1% of the first $500,000, plus 1.25% of any portion of the TMV that exceeds $500,000.
    So for a $350,000 home, the NTC is 1% of $344,260, or $3,442.60. But for a $1 million home, the NTC is 1% of $500,000 (the first $500,000 of value) plus 1.25% of $500,000 (the value in excess of $500,000), or $11,250.

    By law, the taxes on each parcel of property must be calculated based on the NTC. This is required by state law and the district has no choice in how it is applied.

    Note, for additional information on property tax terms and concepts, click here for an overview produced by the MN House Research Office.

    What is the total cost of the referendum? Aren't taxpayers actually paying more because of interest payments?
    The true cost as noted in the estimated tax impact provided by the district do include the estimated interest. Much as when a homeowner takes out a mortgage, the $124.9M, as noted in the ballot question, represents the principal, and interest payments are additional. These interest payments are factored into the total cost of the “loan” (bond repayment), as articulated in the district’s Review and Comment document (page 45), which estimates the total cost of the bond (principal + interest) at $181M. The estimated cost to taxpayers includes anticipated interest. The exact interest rate will be determined based on the actual sale of the bonds, which the district cannot yet do without voter authorization (i.e., a successful bond referendum on May 5). Nonetheless, the cost estimates provided by the district are based on current market rates and projected bond interest rates.

    What is the increase to the operating budget due to the increase in building space from this referendum?
    The anticipated operating costs of about $800,000 (as noted on page 43 of the Review and Comment document) are based on the additional operating costs as the result of increased square feet (i.e. custodial staff, utilities, supplies/equipment). Some of the supplies/equipment costs included are only one-time expenses, while others, like utilities and staffing, are ongoing. In addition, the operating cost estimates do not include projected program savings that the district will see once grade 9 is moved to the high school, nor do they take into account additional efficiencies or variables due to possible schedule changes or changes to transportation services. Thus the net of additional operating costs will be closer to $500,000. This cost, which is less than one percent of the district’s total operating costs, will be incorporated into the district general operating budget.

    Facilities Plan/Information


    What all is included in the Facilities Plan?
    The facilities plan includes $124.9M in building improvements for security and improved learning spaces at all 10 of the district’s school sites, including early childhood. In addition, the plan includes improvements to outdoor learning and activity spaces, as well as the construction of a new transportation services facility. To learn more, click on Facilities Plan at left.

    When did the district develop the facilities plan?
    The district has been engaged in facilities planning since 2009, following the conclusion of construction projects from the 2003 bond referendum and additional needs were identified. The following highlights key phases in the development of the Next Generation Facilities Plan, which has led to the School Board approving a special election on Tuesday, May 5. To see the different phases of the development, see the Referendum Timeline at left.

    Why are these facility improvements needed?
    Edina Public Schools facilities are aging. The average age of district schools based on date of original construction is 51 years, with the newest school being built in 1972. While the district has worked hard to maintain facilities and some improvements have been made over the years, the schools were designed for a different time, with different security concerns and different approaches to teaching and learning.

    The security improvements proposed in the referendum will renovate the main offices at each school to create a more secure entrance area, helping to monitor and control building access during the school day. The referendum will also fund the purchase of additional security cameras at schools as well as security technologies that provide for the capability to electronically lockdown portions of a building in the event of an incident.

    The infrastructure improvements proposed will help support improvements to outdoor learning and activity spaces, such as elementary playgrounds and competition fields. Current facilities are in need of updates to ensure accessibility to and improve the safety of playing surfaces.

    Updated learning spaces will allow teachers the flexibility to group students and learning experiences according to the individual needs of learners and in ways that complement or enhance the lesson. Research suggests that having a variety of learning spaces available to personalize learning to diverse needs actually improves overall student engagement and achievement.

    How will these facility improvements impact learning?
    Research suggests that having a variety of learning spaces available to personalize learning to diverse needs actually improves overall student engagement and achievement. How a learning environment is designed can promote more cooperative learning and problem-solving, key skills students will need for career and life. In addition, active learning environments have been shown to increase teacher-student interactions, student engagement, improve class attendance rates, and reduce failure rates in both the overall and at-risk student populations.

    Why doesn't the facilities plan include detailed drawings of the proposed renovations and additions?
    Much like other construction projects, the district has drafted an estimated cost of proposed facility improvements based on needed square feet, student enrollment, and anticipated construction costs. However, with public sector construction such as public schools, the district is not able to develop detailed design plans until voters approve the general project plan and authorize funding. The concept plan, refined from the recommendations of the Facilities Advisory Task Force and additional community input, was approved by the School Board on Jan. 12 and submitted to the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) on Jan. 26 for approval. MDE approved the concept plan on Feb. 12, authorizing the referendum plan to move forward. If voters pass the referendum on May 5, the district would then move into the design phase, during which conversations with teachers, students, parents and community will inform specific details of what renovations and/or additions will be completed at each site. For more information on the referendum timeline, click here.

    How old are district facilities?
    Technically, according to the Minnesota Department of Education, the average age of district buildings is 41 years. However, the actually construction of our schools dates back further, with our oldest school building constructed in 1949, and our newest in 1972. The state’s calculation factors in additions to schools over the years, which essentially resets the clock on building age. The average age of our schools based on initial construction is 51 years. For more information about our facilities, click here.

    Construction Dates

    Concord 1950
    Cornelia 1960
    Countryside 1965
    Creek Valley 1968
    Highlands 1956
    Normandale/Edina Community Center 1949
    South View 1954
    Valley View 1964
    Edina High School 1972

    What happened to the multi-purpose activity center proposal? Is it still part of this referendum?
    The Facilities Advisory Task Force recommendations included additions at Edina High School as well as a separate multi-purpose activity center. As administration refined the proposal and gathered additional stakeholder feedback, it became apparent that the components of the multi-purpose activity center should be incorporated into the high school additions, as they are needed to accommodate the school’s future curricular and co-curricular program needs. Thus, the components of the activity center, which include large group learning and activity spaces, wellness and fitness spaces, and additional gymnasiums, are all still included in the proposal, but incorporated into the revised plan for additions at EHS.

    These ideas about open, flexible classroom spaces were tried in some school districts in the 1970s and 80s, many of which were converted back to traditional classrooms; why are we looking at this model again?
    First, the district is not planning to open up all of the walls and create an entirely open campus, as was a trend in the 1970s. The district is looking to create a variety of learning spaces that complement current spaces and better meet the needs of the learners of today and tomorrow. There will still be traditional classroom spaces, but there will also be newly created individual, small and large group learning spaces to accommodate a variety of teaching strategies and learning styles.

    The 1970s idea of having open classrooms put the cart before the horse. The thinking was that by opening up classrooms the learning and teaching would naturally change. They thought that the facilities would direct the learning.

    Today we know that the learning has to come first and all of our other resources need to align around the learning program. The district’s Next Generation of Edina Public Schools Strategic Plan lays out specific strategies that we believe are necessary to prepare today’s students for a future that looks very different than what most of us experienced when we completed high school. This Next Generation Facilities Plan is rooted in the district’s strategic vision to provide a personalized learning experience for all EPS students.

    Teaching and classroom models for creating that experience require a variety of different learning spaces, which are currently limited in our current facilities built in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. By opening up some of the spaces (through renovation) and creating some new spaces (through construction) we will design flexible rooms that can be used to create a variety of learning environments. These renovated spaces will compliment traditional classrooms in providing a variety of learning experiences for students – including direct instruction, small and large group learning – helping them to collaborate, create and innovate.

    The biggest difference between the district’s plan for Next Generation learning space and the 1970s attempts at opening space is that we are letting the learning needs of our students direct our facilities, rather than space dictating the learning program.

    Has the facilities plan been approved by the City of Edina's Planning Commission?
    Not yet, because the design phase of the project is not yet completed (see above FAQ about detailed drawings), as indicated by the referendum timeline. That doesn't mean it won't, only that in order to go to the Planning Commission or any other regulatory agency the district must have a project that is developed to the level the agency requires in its submittal process, which would require the detailed plan scheduled to be created following a successful referendum. That being said, the district has been in communication the City Council and members of the City’s engineering and planning departments to share with them the concept plans and apprise them of the timeline for design development. An example from a neighboring district: the Wayzata School District approved a building referendum in February 2014, and only recently completed the detailed design plan and passed it through their local City Council (April 2015).

    Why doesn't the district just build new schools rather than invest money in old buildings?
    While the district’s facilities are aging, the general structures of its schools are sound. An analysis of district facilities in 2012 noted that while there existed a need to address maintenance and infrastructure deficiencies, such projects could be addressed through the district’s Alternative Facilities Plan. When looking at the costs of renovation and maintenance updates at each of the 10 schools, none outweighed the cost of constructing new schools. Furthermore, the district currently operates its schools at or near capacity. Given the limited availability of land for purchase, or school facilities for rent, in Edina, closing a school or temporarily relocation a school is not a viable option.

    Does the referendum plan address general maintenance and infrastructure improvements?
    The district currently has a 10-year Alternative Facilities Plan addressing critical maintenance and infrastructure needs of its schools. The referendum proposal looks at facility improvement beyond the scope of the 10-year plan, to include outdoor learning and activity space improvements, security enhancements at all schools, and updates to classrooms and schools to address the needs of today’s and future teachers and learners.

    Is the district planning to connect Creek Valley Road to provide access to the lower fields and additions at Edina High School? Will there be parking below the hill at the high school?
    One option explored early in the concept development phase was the extension of Creek Valley Road and the addition of a parking lot on the lower level of the campus to provide access to the lower fields at Edina High School. In January 2015, the School Board and administration held a series of community meetings with neighbors to the east and west of the campus to assess this possibility and discuss other concerns and suggestions. After review with the neighborhoods to the east and west of EHS and listening to concerns related to the potential for connecting Creek Valley Road, providing vehicular access from those points, or providing general parking at the lower fields area, the district decided in February to not make any traffic or parking changes in these neighborhoods. Instead, the district opted to accommodate any needed expansion to parking at the upper area of the site (adjacent to exiting parking lot) and provide service vehicle and handicap accessibility access via a service drive on the existing district property.

    How crowded are the schools? Are additions really needed?
    The district’s schools are at capacity, which limits the ability to have extra space for the variety of learning spaces we know will benefit current teaching practices and learning needs. Thus, to accommodate these needs, the district is proposing renovations at all 10 educational sites. There may be some additions at a couple elementary schools to provide equitable large group or specialized learner spaces, but the majority of proposals for elementary and middle schools are renovations. Additions are proposed at the high school to accommodate the addition of grade 9 (a program decision approved by the Board in June 2014). Currently, the middle schools are at, or slightly above capacity, thus we will be able to use some of the spaces currently utilized by grade 9 for the kinds of renovated spaces we need. Additionally, the budget for renovations at the middle school are less than at the elementary schools because there will be freed up space to work with, whereas at the elementary, there is little excess capacity.

    Grade Configuration


    Why are we changing our grade configuration for middle and high schools?
    The district’s Next Generation of Edina Public Schools Strategic Plan, which included student, family, staff and community input, was approved by the School Board in the spring of 2012. One of the core strategies of the plan is to provide a coherent and comprehensive learning experience, including an increase in grade 9 learning options, specifically more opportunities to advanced learning and engagement at the high school level.

    Since the fall of 2012, the Secondary Study has been exploring options to achieve this strategic direction. As part of this study, the Secondary Design and Implementation Teams assisted administration in the development of Educational Competencies that identified key learner attributes needed to meet the district's mission and strategic vision.

    Upon review of these competencies, the discussion evolved from merely advancing grade 9 learning options to identifying the optimal learning experiences/grade configurations necessary to help all learners attain and demonstrate the educational competencies, and to advance additional strategic plan directions and Secondary Study recommendations.

    In addition to program research as part of the Birth to Grade 5 and Secondary Studies, significant stakeholder research has been collected over the last few years around the issue of optimal learning experiences, including scientific representative sample surveys of parents and community, internal surveys of students, staff and families, and focus groups. While a minority of voices preferred keeping the middle and high schools configurations as they are currently, the majority of respondents indicate support for the move. In particular, a survey conducted in the fall of 2013 showed that 54% of the community at large rated a comprehensive grade 9-12 experience as a top or high priority, with an additional 27% noting it as a medium priority. A balloon sample of EPS parents in the same survey had 65% of parents noting a grades 9-12 high school experience as a top or high priority, with and additional 22% noting it as a medium priority.

    Furthermore, the district also looked at ways to create a more true middle school experience rather than modified junior high model, noting that a grade 6-8 middle school model would help create smaller middle schools, allowing students more opportunities to explore a variety of subjects and options, and to experience a more integrated curriculum experience.

    Research on the most appropriate learning experience for future students as well as changing learner expectations at all grade levels, including Minnesota’s academic standards and requirements of the World’s Best Workforce legislation, point toward the need to create more comprehensive high school and middle school experiences. Additionally, the K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 grade configurations most closely align with Minnesota State Academic Standards, which were written to link and support key learning objectives to the most appropriate grade levels.

    After studying a variety of secondary grade configurations (see benefits and challenges of each option), the following learner experience/grade configuration was approved by the School Board in June 2014 as part of the district’s Next Generation of Edina Public Schools plan:
    • Elementary Schools – remain grades K-5
    • Middle Schools – shift to grades 6-8
    • High School – shifts to grades 9-12 (all to be located on the west campus)

    Were other grade configuration options explored before the School Board made its decision to two grade 6-8 middle schools and one grade 9-12 high school?
    The district explored a variety of grade configuration options, focusing on three primary options — retaining the current grade 6-9 at two middle schools and one grade 10-12 high school; two grade 6-8 middle schools and one grade 9-12 high school, and an option in which all secondary students would be together, with grade 6-7 at one middle school, grade 8-9 at another middle school, and grade 10-12 at the high school. After weighing the benefits and challenges of each option, the Board approved the recommended option to go ahead with second option, citing it as the best decision based on learning program and strategic direction. The Board noted that this secondary configuration, along with retention of the grade K-5 elementary schools, best supports the academic, social and emotional needs of Edina Public Schools students.

    If the bond referendum is approved, when would the grade configurations take place?
    If the bond referendum is approved, the first class of new grade configurations would open in Fall 2017. Thus, the first group of ninth graders at the high school would be the students who are currently in sixth grade.

    If the bond referendum is not approved will the reconfiguration still happen?
    Yes. The Board’s action in June 2014 was to move ahead with a future grade configuration of grade K-5 elementary schools, grade 6-8 middle schools and a grade 9-12 high school. The timing of the change would likely be delayed if the referendum is not approved in May, but the intent is for this learning experience to move forward at some point in the future.

    Wouldn't Edina High School get too big if we added
    ninth grade?
    Edina High School is already considered a large high school with grades 10-12, with approximately 2,000 students currently enrolled. Assuming the grade 9-12 high school opened in 2017-18, enrollment projections are for around 2,700 students, which is similar to metro high schools, although still considerably smaller than schools like Wayzata, Eden Prairie and Minnetonka, all of which have enrollments over 3,000.

    The key to programming for grade 9-12 is to create smaller “communities” within the school to help with transitions and ensure students feel connected to the school. Planning is already underway to create curriculum and program offerings for grades 9-12 that would be consciously and purposely designed to create a large high school where personalized learning thrives and the environment feels smaller. Ensuring each student feels a sense of connectedness is critically important to district staff, administration and the School Board.

    Other


    Didn't we just approve a referendum?
    Edina Public Schools voters approved a renewal of an operating levy and renewal/increase of a capital projects levy in 2011. These levies are different from a bond levy, the last referendum for which was approved in 2003.

    How can I find out more information about the facilities proposal and the bond referendum?
    Between now and May 5, the district will be sharing more information via US mail as well as through district electronic communication channels.

    The public is also invited to attend one of two district-sponsored community dialogues planned for 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 19 (Creek Valley Elementary) and Tuesday, April 7 (Edina Community Center, Room 349), as well as a League of Women Voters-Edina forum scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, April 20 (City Council Chambers).

    The district website is also an excellent source of information. We add information often and will continue to build this web section as we progress toward Election Day on Tuesday, May 5.

    Why is the district holding this election in May? Why not wait until November?
    By seeking voter approval in May, the district gains a year of construction. If the referendum is successful in May, the district would then begin the Design Phase of the Facilities Planning Process in which teachers, staff and community stakeholders will work with the architects, construction management firm, and administration to design the specific learning spaces desired. This phase would commence in May and last through the fall 2015, bids would go out in winter 2016, and then construction would begin in spring 2016. If the bond referendum was delayed until November, the design phase would continue into the summer of 2016 and construction could not begin until 2017. The district is nearing the end of its Secondary and Birth to Grade 5 program studies and the time is right to align facilities to the Next Generation learning program adjustments.

    I heard this special election is costing the district $100,000. Is this correct? If so, why not just combine with the School Board election in November?
    No. The cost of operating this special election bond referendum costs the district $50,000, which includes legal costs, printing of ballots, payment of election judges and other information sharing. In deciding to go to voters in May instead of November, the School Board felt it was a worthwhile investment to allow for an earlier start to construction, should the referendum receive approval. For more information, click on the previous question.

    How does the construction of a new bus garage relate to the City of Edina's Grandview Development plans?
    The district’s current transportation services facility is outdated and does not meet the needs of the district’s operations. The need for a new transportation facility is to address not only the maintenance of the district’s 70+ buses, but also the ability to securely house the current fleet, and possibly expand the fleet so that services currently contracted to outside vendors (e.g. special education routes) can be brought back in house and serviced by district staff. Currently, the district does not have enough space at the existing location to house all of the buses (the district is parking some over in the Normandale school lot), and many of the newer buses are too tall to fit in the existing storage facility. Additionally, the current site is not secure as it should be. Thus, to meet current and future needs, the district is exploring a new location to house, maintain and operate school district transportation services.

    While the City’s Grandview District Development plans may include the current bus garage site in the future, it is understood that the district is not interested in selling the property until an appropriate new location is found and a new service facility can be constructed.

    Does the referendum reduce class size?
    The funds from the bond referendum cannot be used for operating expenses, such as teacher or other staff salaries. Bond referendum revenue can only be used for capital (i.e. building) projects such as those included in the facilities plan. That being said, the vision is that in creating a variety of flexible learning spaces where teachers can work with small groups or collaborate with colleagues to teach larger groups, can indirectly impact instructional size. The traditional notion of one teacher to 25 students is part of the programmatic shift outlined in the district’s Next Generation of Edina Public Schools Strategic Plan. By personalizing learning for all students, and maximizing the skills and talents of all our educators, we will better be able advance learning, increase student engagement, and ensure students have the skills they need to thrive in a rapidly changing world. Thinking about how we use our staff differently is a critical component of this plan. However, the current factory style structure of our classrooms and schools limits the ability of our staff to transform how they teach and how they can collaborate with other staff in the building and across the district.

    What about the environmental impact of the proposed additions at Edina High School?
    The district takes the environmental impact of construction seriously. The district intends to continue to work with all of the regulatory agencies to make sure all projects comply with requirements in all areas. With respect to the additions at Edina High School, the district had an initial meeting with representatives from the Nine Mile Creek Watershed District to make sure that what was being proposed was possible. Their response was that if the proposal met the requirements of the Watershed District, there was nothing from their perspective that would prevent it from being possible. This means that the project must meet all of their requirements, which the district fully intends and is prepared to do as part of the design development phase.

    The district also values the educational opportunities that wetlands and prairie grasses provide, and will continue to work with staff so that such access and experiences are available for students (e.g. Advanced Placement Environmental Studies classes) to continue their learning about the environment.

    Will the proposals in this referendum benefit community education programs?
    The classes, programs and services offered through Edina Community Education are integral to the Edina Public Schools continuum of learning. Whether such experiences are at the early learning level (e.g. Early Childhood Family Education, preschool or school readiness classes); school-age level (e.g. before, after and non-school day youth enrichment classes and childcare options); or adult learning level (e.g. adult enrichment and volunteering experience), Edina Community Education offers lifelong learning opportunities for all community members and helps identify and link community needs and resources in a manner that helps the quality of life in Edina.

    The bond referendum proposal includes improvements, security enhancements, and updated learning spaces at all ten sites in Edina Public Schools. In addition to specifically targeted improvements for early learning at the Edina Community Center, elementary, middle and high school improvements will enhance learning opportunities both during the traditional school day as well as after school, during the evenings and on the weekends. The plan calls for a variety of flexible spaces to enhance learning for all ages, to include Edina Community Education programs and services.

    Isn't student enrollment declining? If so, couldn't we just reduce the amount of open enrolled students and therefore not need additional space?
    Regarding enrollment, per a 2014 demographic study, the district’s resident population is projected to actually remain about the same or grow slightly (less than one percent a year). The 15% of open enrollment is equivalent to the percent of resident school-age students who are opting for other educational options (e.g. private school, charter, homeschool, other public schools). The district must, however, maintain the ability to serve all resident students should they choose to enroll in Edina Public Schools. The School Board has stated that the district should not seek open enrollment beyond resident capacity. Thus, building capacity is, and will continue to be, designed to accommodate around 8,500 students. State law requires Edina Public Schools to accept open enroll students for which the district has space. However, if more resident students opt to enroll in EPS, then the district lessens the amount of open enroll students it accepts accordingly to remain around the 8,500-student mark.

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