Voters approve both of Anoka-Hennepin’s Fit for the Future referendum questions
The results are in, and Anoka-Hennepin voters have approved both Fit for the Future referendum questions on this year’s election ballot, which will allow the School Board to address facility and class size challenges found across the district.
Voters approved question one with 16,681 yes votes — 66.02 percent of the vote — while 8,586 people voted no on the question, which was 33.98 percent of the vote. Question one was an operational levy and asked voters for $226.20 per pupil, or $9.5 million annually, to fund operational needs of new spaces proposed in question two, and also promised to provide relief to class sizes across the district.
Meanwhile, voters also approved question two with 16,579 yes votes, or 65.65 percent of the vote. Some 8,675 people voted no on the measure, or 34.35 percent of the votes cast. Question two was a bond issue asking voters for $249 million in funding to build two new elementary schools, construct additions on nine schools (including all five high schools), and improve science labs, media centers and flexible learning areas at all district schools. With the additions, the district has promised to remove all 62 portable classrooms found at schools across the district.
“We are thrilled to have so much community support for our students and their future,” said Superintendent David Law. “We will immediately begin working to put these funds to use as we promised, and the community will see the impact of these resources within the next six months.”
The Fit for the Future referendum came after 18 months of facilities planning, including study and recommendations made by the 32-member community task force, as well as feedback from the community during a series of meetings.
“We took the task force recommendations to the community twice in the past nine months to make sure we had their input and that voters understood what the School Board was asking,” Law said. “The referendum results show the community was informed, understood the recommendations, and responded with support.”
With the referendum questions having been approved, what’s next?
According to Chuck Holden, the district’s chief operations officer, a lot of planning has been taking place behind the scenes with county and municipal governments on planning so the district would be prepared to start construction as soon as possible if the referendum passed.
While many things still need to happen, he said the district is aiming to solicit project bids for construction of the two new elementary schools in late-winter with construction starting in the spring. The goal is to have the schools ready to go for the start of the 2019-20 school year. It’s likely other projects will follow the same timeline, he said, but details still need to be worked out.
“For a variety of reasons, not all of the construction will happen at once, but rather be rolled out in three phases,” Holden said. “Within four years, we hope to have all projects completed.”
A list of projects and a timeline for construction will be approved by the School Board in the coming months.
Anoka-Hennepin will have a website dedicated to information and updates about construction projects.