Voting orange

Johnstone family members reopened Cup and Cone for the day Tuesday, Nov. 5, to offer free orange ice cream to voters and raise funds for White Bear Lake Area Schools. The district's $326 million bond later passed at the polls by 57% of votes. 

The White Bear Lake Area School's $326 million bond referendum passed. 

57.4%, or 8,536, voted yes and 42.6%, or 6,336, voted no.

With the money, White Bear Lake Area Schools plans to build one new elementary school in Hugo, expand North Campus to house all high school grades and construct upgrades at all other schools.

The plans include the relocation of Sunrise Park Middle School to South Campus. Sunrise will become an early childhood center, transition center and senior center, and would house district offices.

The vacated District Center, where the district offices are currently, will be an expansion for Central Middle School. Oneka Elementary in Hugo would become a K-5 school and Hugo Elementary will become an early childhood center. Districtwide safety and security improvements, as well as flexible learning spaces, are also part of the plans.

The plans were put forth by a 90-member committee that met this winter. The facility planning committee of staff, parents and community members came to a consensus on the plans this spring after discussing five options for high school and elementary configuration to meet growing enrollment needs. The facilities planning was prompted by the district's recent strategic planning. The district projects that more than 2,000 new students will enroll during the next 10 years due to housing growth. The growth will be 25% higher than current capacity.

The tax impact for the $326 million in voter-approved bonds on a $275,000 home will be an increase of $280 per year, according to board documents. For a $1 million commercial building, it will be about $1,300. The tax rate will increase from about 25 to 35 percent. The bond increase will begin in January 2020 and stay level to 2044.

The biggest line items are the expansion of North Campus at about $179 million and a new elementary school in Hugo, at $43 million. The district plans to spend about $17.1 million renovating Sunrise into a new District Center. New classroom and media center furniture for the whole district is expected to cost about $13.6 million. Renovations to South Campus to become a middle school will cost about $13.2 million.

Board members elected

Three board members were also elected this year. Votes were as follows:

Angela Thompson: 25.36%; 7,222

Margaret Newmaster: 21.64%; 6,163 votes

Scott Arcand: 18.27%; 5,204 votes

Scott Wilson: 16.81%; 4,787

Patrick Battaglia: 16.57%; 4,720 votes

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