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Crookston Public Schools to send to voters a second referendum for multi-sport athletic complex

On Aug. 17, the Crookston School Board held a special meeting to canvass the results of the Aug. 9 election and decided to give voters a second chance to approve the facility.

Crookston Field Rendering 2.jpg
An artist's rendering shows what the multi-use facility that Crookston Public Schools is holding a second referendum for in February could look like.
Contributed / Zerr Berg Architects
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CROOKSTON, Minn. — Reaching more voters with information will be a key part of Crookston Public Schools’ strategy as the district pursues a second referendum to fund a new multi-use sports facility, says Interim Superintendent Dave Khuen.

On Aug. 9, a ballot measure to fund a new $3.9 million athletic facility failed by nine votes , but the Crookston School Board plans to give voters a second chance.

“The board is very passionate and adamant with the vote being as close as it was that there’s definite support for the project,” said Khuen. “We just need to get more information out to all of our stakeholders to push the needle to a positive result.”

On Aug. 17, the Crookston School Board held a special meeting to canvass the results of the election. At the meeting, the board decided not to pursue a recount of the vote and instead prepare to hold another referendum election as soon as possible for the sports facility, which would provide Crookston Public Schools with its own stadium for football, track and other sports. Currently, the district uses a facility owned by the University of Minnesota Crookston.

Tuesday, Feb. 14, is the earliest another referendum can be sent to voters. Had the ballot measure passed this month, the facility would have opened by the fall of the 2023-24 school year. If a referendum passes in February, the district could likely adhere to a similar timeline, said Khuen.

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The board decided against a recount because with the accuracy of electronic voting, it was unlikely the results would change enough for the referendum to pass, said Khuen.

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If parents of children attending private school want to be included, I would suggest they contact their senators and representatives to make their wishes known.

“We felt it was better to take a positive step and get moving on and going for a second try at this,” he said.

The district’s strategy for the second try at the referendum will be reaching more stakeholders with the message about why the facility is needed and how the referendum passing would impact taxes.

In five of Crookston’s six wards, a majority of voters supported the referendum, but townships outside of Crookston, still part of the school district, were a mixed bag. According to unofficial results from the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State, out of 20 out-of-town precincts, six voted yes on the question, while 11 voted no, and three had no response to the question.

While a new sports facility would mean tax increases for residential property owners within the school district, the School Building Bond Agricultural Credit, a Minnesota tax credit, would reduce the property tax impact for those who own agricultural properties.

“We hope the messaging that we come out with is that it’s a worthy, needed project and there are a lot of benefits to the school and the community,” said Khuen.

Khuen says the next step for the Crookston School Board will be to work with architects to generate a new dollar amount for the project to better reflect the current prices of materials and construction services. The board will finalize an amount for the second referendum at a future School Board meeting.

Related Topics: CROOKSTONEDUCATION
Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or iharbo@gfherald.com. Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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