At its September 23 Board meeting, the White Bear Lake Area School Board unanimously passed a resolution confirming that the district will not use eminent domain for additional land around the current White Bear Lake Area High School - North Campus if the November 5 referendum is approved by voters.
“This resolution reinforces what we have said all along,” said Board Chair Donald Mullin. “We have the land we need to expand North Campus into a single, unified grades 9-12 high school and have no intention of using eminent domain to gain additional land. We would consider purchasing neighboring homes from interested sellers if expansion made sense, but eminent domain? No, absolutely not.”
Board Clerk Ellen Fahey reinforced the Board’s ongoing position. “To make it clear, and publicly state again, this Board has always stated that we will not use eminent domain,” she said. “This is something that we have said since the beginning.”
At the meeting, Superintendent Wayne Kazmierczak shared a draft conceptual footprint for the “new” high school on the North Campus site and confirmed that the expansion could fit on district-owned land if voters approve the referendum request. A final plan would be developed with input from the community if the referendum passes.
“We hope tonight’s action will put to rest any rumors about land acquisition,” said Superintendent Kazmierczak. “We want to focus on the increased opportunities a unified high school in a central location would provide for our students.”
The Board also reviewed a summary list of what each school would receive if the referendum passes. The comprehensive plan would touch every aspect of the district and encompass all district buildings. Funds would be invested to accommodate projected enrollment growth; provide safe, secure and healthy learning environments for all students through investments in aging facilities and infrastructure; increase opportunities for students by creating a “new” single unified grades 9-12 high school; and create flexibly-designed learning spaces to support student-centered instruction.
Additionally, information was shared about the district’s Voter Approved School Debt Tax Levy, which is the lowest among all neighboring districts. If the bond referendum would be approved, the district would still be below the average of other area school districts ($275 per year on a $250,000 home in White Bear Lake Area Schools compared to an average of $317 for neighboring districts).
Kazmierczak also shared information about various property tax relief measures exist for those below a certain household income threshold.
More information about the Bond Referendum, including the planning process that led to the committee’s recommendation, can be found at https://www.isd624.org/Bond2019.
The full resolution reads as follows:
WHEREAS, the White Bear Lake Area Schools building bond referendum question includes a comprehensive facilities plan that increases opportunities for students by creating a “new” single, unified grade 9-12 high school on the current WBLAHS-North Campus site.
WHEREAS, the proposed single, unified grade 9-12 high school could be built on the existing property already owned by the District.
WHEREAS, the White Bear Lake Area Schools administration and individual School Board members have publicly stated that the District will not use eminent domain to acquire any homes near the proposed site of the single, unified high school facility.
Therefore, BE IT RESOLVED by the School Board of Independent School District 624, State of Minnesota, as follows:
1. If the District’s November 5, 2019 building bond referendum is approved, the White Bear Lake Area School Board will not use eminent domain to acquire neighboring homes to expand WBLAHS-North Campus to become the District’s single, unified 9-12 high school.