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Vision One91 Q&A

We've compiled a list of common questions about Vision One91 and their answers. This list will be updated as more questions are received. If you have a question that's not listed here, you can submit it to info@isd191.org

General Election and Finance Questions

Questions About Reorganizing Our Schools

Questions about Technology for Classrooms

 

General Election and Finance Questions

Q. What are the ballot questions?

A. There will be two questions on the Feb. 24, 2015, ballot:

  • Q1: A $65 million building bond referendum to fund the major construction costs associated with realigning schools to K-5, 6-8 and 9-12, paying for security upgrades, relocating programs and offices and expanding early childhood spaces.
  • Q2: A technology levy to provide $2.5 million per year for 10 years to provide critical technology for students, classrooms, staff and the district.

Download a Sample Ballot

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Q. When is the election and where do I vote?

A. The election is set for Feb. 24, 2015. Combined polling locations have been set. A complete list is available here. Absentee voting will also be available beginning 46 days prior to the election per state law. Learn more about voting online at www.mnvotes.org.

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Q. What is the tax impact to a homeowner?

A. On an average home valued at $200,000, the estimated tax impact is $6 per month for each question, for a total of $12 per month if both questions are approved. Learn more about tax impact here.

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Q. Why not hold the election in November?

A. It's a matter of timing and the desire to use a thoughtful, comprehensive and inclusive process. The district's new superintendent, Joe Gothard, began with District 191 on July 1, 2013, and met with hundreds of students, families, staff and community members during his first year on the job. He gathered feedback from them about opportunities and challenges in the school district. Out of those discussions rose the beginning concepts in Vision One91, which Superintendent Gothard first shared with staff members in May 2014.

In the months prior to the Board of Education’s decision to hold a referendum, Superintendent Gothard and other district leaders continued to meet with parents, staff members and community groups to discuss and refine the Vision One91 proposal. A complete plan that included input from the community would not have been available prior to the November 2014 election.

Looking forward, in order to have changes in place by the first day of school in September 2016, a vote would need to be taken in early 2015.

Also, there will be no elections in November 2015 because it's an off year, so the next general election will be in November 2016. This would delay any changes at the schools until September 2018. 

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Q. What is District 191 doing to save money?

A. The district is always looking for ways to save money while still serving students. Most recently the board of education refinanced about $4 million in debt to a lower interest rate, which will save about $175,000 over a two-year period.

The district also moved to Gmail as its staff email system. While the primary purpose of the change was to improve communication and collaboration with students and staff, the move is expected to save $2 million over the next five years.

District 191 is also a leader in conservation. Over the past two years, schools have undertaken more recycling and composting efforts, saving on fees charged for landfill disposal. The district has also been a leader in energy conservation which has saved thousands of dollars over the past decade.  

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Q. When was the last time District 191 had a building referendum?

A. The building bond referendum was 20 years ago in May 1994, when voters approved $49.5 million to:

  • Build Harriet Bishop Elementary School and Eagle Ridge Junior High in Savage
  • Acquire and install instructional equipment in schools.
  • Improve technology systems in the district.
  • Health, safety and handicapped accessibility improvements in the district.

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Q. Is this referendum reflected in the 2015 property tax estimate I received from the county?

A. No. Any changes that would result from the February 24, 2015 referendum would be reflected on your 2016 property tax statement.

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Q. Have District 191 taxes gone up in recent years?

In 2014, the District 191 tax levy went down by 2.25 percent. The proposed property tax levy for 2015 is an increase of 4.1 percent. However, because of growth in the tax base, individual homeowners' actual taxes may be higher or lower depending on any change in the taxable value of their property.

More information on District 191 finances is available at http://www.isd191.org/about-us/finances-budget.

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Questions About Reorganizing Our Schools

Q. What is Vision One91?

A. Vision One91 is a plan for the future of District 191 to redesign the school district to meet the needs of today's learners and ensure each student is real-world ready. Vision One91 is based on more than a year of community input and includes four main components:

  1. Organize schools to best support learning and ensure each student graduates real-world ready. Shift to K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 schools to alleviate crowding at elementary schools, address the special social and emotional needs of middle school students and create a comprehensive four-year high school experience.
  2. Improve security for a safer learning environment. Create secure entries in schools that don't already have them and upgrade surveillance cameras.
  3. Relocate programs and repurpose offices for effectiveness and efficiency. Move programs from leased spaced into district-owned buildings to save costs and better integrate programs.
  4. Increase technology to enhance classroom teaching and learning, provide students with individualized learning opportunities, ensure equitable access to technology, and create districtwide infrastructure that meets the needs of today’s schools.

Download a Detailed Overview of Vision One91

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Q. How did Vision One91 develop?

A. Vision One91 is based on more than a year of community input following the hiring of Superintendent Joe Gothard.

Download a Timeline of Vision One91

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Q. Why change to a K-5, 6-8, 9-12 grade alignment?

A. Changing grade alignments would provide several benefits, including:

  • Creates a cohesive, single high school campus for students in grades 9-12. Currently, 9th grade students attend three different schools and seniors spend part of their day at the Senior Campus away from Burnsville High School.
  • Emphasizes the importance of 9th grade toward graduation and post-secondary preparation
  • Increases access for all high school students to honors, Advanced Placement (AP) and other highly rigorous course options, as well as other elective classes
  • The middle school model better meets the social, emotional and academic needs of students in grades 6-8
  • Alleviates overcrowding at some elementary schools and creates more opportunities for early learning programs

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Q. When would these changes take effect?

A. If approved by voters, changes would be in place by the start of the 2016-17 school year.

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Q. Will the high school be too big?

A. A “Design Team” of teachers and other educators is working now to plan how the high school will best meet the needs of all students in grades 9-12. Some of its work will include creating structures and programs that ensure students have opportunities that match their interests and skills, that the school’s culture remains inclusive and supportive, and that support systems are in place to ensure students don’t “fall through the cracks.” In many ways, a larger high school gives students more opportunities to find a group or activity where they feel engaged, excited and accepted.

If Burnsville High School had included all 9th grade students in 2013-14, there would have been about 2,650 students at the school. That’s more than Prior Lake (2,398) or Eagan (2,075), but less than Eden Prairie (2,973) and Wayzata (3,171). In the end, the quality of the school will be determined by the teachers, staff and community support far more than by the number of students who attend.

See a comparison of metro high schools and their enrollments for the 2013-14 school year.

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Q. Why do we need more classrooms if enrollment is down?

A. More classrooms are needed at the high school because it would change from a grades 10-12 building to a grades 9-12 building. Currently, only students in grades 10-12 are at Burnsville High School, and 12th graders are only there for part of the day. If all students in grades 9-12 were at the high school for the entire school day, the school would need space for approximately 800 more students (all of 9th grade plus nearly half of 12th grade).

In addition, while enrollment at Burnsville High School and throughout District has declined slowly over the past several years as the community has aged, enrollment is increasing again at the youngest grades. As those classes get older, Burnsville High School will need the space to serve them.

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Q. Didn’t we just remodel the high school and remove some classrooms?

A.  Yes. Over the past three years, renovation projects at Burnsville High School have:

  • Expanded science classrooms to meet modern science class needs
  • Moved administrative office to the front of the school to improve security and efficiency
  • Improved the cafeteria, main hallways, front entrance and other common areas to create a more comfortable and safer learning environment.

Five classrooms were lost as part of these transitions: three on the second floor to create better traffic flow, use more natural light and for better security/supervision; one was lost with the creation of a new central stairwell; and one was lost to create a teacher work room. All of these changes would be of benefit in a 9-12 grade high school and would not be harmed if additions are approved by voters on February 24, 2015.

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Q. Where would the additional spaces be added to the high school?

A. Preliminary concepts show additional classrooms being added to the northwest and northeast corners of the building. Health classrooms, physical education and activities/athletics spaces would be added to the south of the current gymnasium. Preliminary plans also include remodeling some current health classrooms to be used as music classrooms.

Parking and traffic patterns would also be changed to provide better flow of traffic for students, visitors and buses.

These plans are preliminary and may be modified as feedback is received and the planning process continues. Download preliminary concept drawings for Burnsville High School

Q. Why do we need an activities center at Burnsville High School?

A. With additional students at Burnsville High School, more space will be needed for physical education and health classes, extra- and co-curricular activities, and athletics, both during the school day, after school and in the evening. In addition, health classes could be moved to new spaces in the activities center, freeing up existing classrooms that could be used for music education classes. The activities center will also be available for community needs.

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Q. Will attendance boundaries be changing, too?

A. No. Vision One91 does not include any attendance boundary changes.

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Q. What safety and security improvements are proposed and at which schools?

A. More secure entrances will be constructed at Metcalf Junior High, Edward Neill Elementary, Rahn Elementary and William Byrne Elementary. In addition, surveillance cameras will be updated where needed.

These plans are preliminary and may be modified as feedback is received and the planning process continues.

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Q. How are early childhood programs affected?

A. Additional space for early childhood programs will be created at Diamondhead Education Center, allowing the District to save money by ending its lease of the Hamilton building in Savage. With grade configuration changes, some elementary schools may also have enough space to host some early childhood programming.

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Q. What happens if Question 1 fails?

A. Without funding to pay for construction costs, the District will not be able to implement Vision One91.

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Questions about Technology for Classrooms

Q. What is a “technology levy?”

A. A Technology Levy, also called a Capital Projects Levy, is a voter-approved method to provide funds specifically for technology. The money provided can be used to purchase hardware or software, provide training and professional development, and pay some technology support salaries.

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Q. What other districts have technology levies?

A. Technology levies are becoming more prevalent throughout Minnesota because they provide a stable way to pay for technology needs. Nearby school districts with technology levies in place include District 197 (West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan), District 196 (Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan) and Bloomington.

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Q. Why is increasing technology necessary for today’s schools?

A. There are many reasons that increased technology is necessary for today’s schools. Powerful tools in the hands of dedicated teachers allow students to receive a more individualized education. This means that students can work on what they need to learn and move at their own pace, rather than being held to the industrial model where students move through the system as a group. Special needs students including those with learning disabilities, English language learners, and those in accelerated programs especially benefit. In addition, technology can personalize education, meaning schools can respond effectively to students’ different learning styles and different interests.

Also, increasing technology can help create a school that reflects the world today’s students live in and helps prepare them for the world they will contribute to in the future. By leveraging technology, schools can engage students with their interests, allow them to collaborate with peers locally and across the globe, and connect with authors, artists, engineers and scientists to learn about career opportunities or even to participate in research and discovery. Ready access to technology increases technology skills students need to answer questions, solve problems, communicate effectively, and stay safe and ethical online — helping them become real-world ready.

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Q. How can increased technology improve learning?

A. Additional funding for technology would allow the district to significantly increase student access to devices, digital curricula and modern learning experiences. Those tools facilitate the personalization of learning to meet the needs, interests and pacing for each student.

Technology can also help teachers be more effective and efficient. Some tools would allow teachers to quickly assess student understanding on a topic and change instruction in response, and it would provide access to videos, simulations, activities and other materials that reinforce quality teaching in the classroom. Technology would allow teachers to receive additional professional learning opportunities and support that would infuse new strategies, activities, projects and overall instruction to meet students in their digital world.

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Q. How does the district plan to use the money, specifically?

A. District 191 is developing a comprehensive technology plan for how best to leverage the power of technology in learning. The plan will include both how technology will be taught as its own content area and how technology can be integrated in all content areas. Creation of the plan will involve conducting needs assessments, evaluating best practices already being used in District 191 and those practices of other districts, and gathering input through advisory groups that include teachers, students and parents.

While a specific plan is still under development, any plan that is developed will include making technology available in classrooms rather than simply sitting in a computer lab. Technology will empower students to direct their own learning when appropriate and monitor their own progress. It will include increasing wireless systems to strengthen access for students. And it will provide tools and training to help teachers deliver high quality instruction.

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Q. Will every student get an iPad if Question 2 passes?

A. While personal mobile devices may play a role in the district’s technology plan, it’s unknown at this time exactly what resources will be chosen. Any mobile device choice will be driven by student learning goals identified through Vision One91. It’s unlikely that every student in grades K-12 will be issued a district-owned iPad or other mobile device. Any plan, however, will include access for students across the district.

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Q. If we move more to online resources and learning, will some students be left behind because they can’t afford devices or internet access?

A. Equitable access to technology resources is among the most important reasons the district is seeking a Technology Levy. There are a number of creative ways the district may help address inequitable access issues, including improving wireless access at schools and potentially in key areas of the community, as well as providing mobile devices for individual student use.

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Q. What happens if Question 2 fails?

While the district will continue to work to integrate technology into everyday classroom learning, funding will not be available for a comprehensive district-wide approach. Any progress will continue to be gradual, sporadic and piecemeal, because adequate funding is just not available.

Students and staff members will not have the key technology tools they need for teaching and learning in this day and age.

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