Board to vote on funding for proposed Brookview expansion project

November 26, 2019
Brookview Elementary

A decision on how to fund the proposed expansion of Brookview Elementary School is expected to be made as part of the Dec. 19 school board meeting, which will begin at 6 p.m. at the Oak Park Building, 6355 Osman Ave N, Stillwater. At that time, the board will decide whether it wants to utilize non-voter approved lease levy dollars to fund the project or wait to consider including the project as part of a future voter-approved bond referendum.

In September, the board voted to include a lease levy option on its proposed tax levy for taxes payable 2020. This provided the district with the option of issuing a Certification of Participation, or non-voter approved lease levy, to fund an addition to the school. The final decision as to whether or not to fund the project in this way must be made by the end of December in order to be included in the payable 2020 taxes.

Recent growth in the district’s tax base has resulted in a reduction of the school portion of a district taxpayer’s property taxes. Even if the board approved the lease levy to fund the estimated $5.775 million Brookview expansion project, district taxpayers are expected to see a decrease in their school taxes.

Brookview was built with expansion in mind, and approval for the project was granted by the school board in November 2018. The current school board voted in March 2019 to postpone a decision on how to fund the project until completion of the long-range facilities plan by the Community Design Team (CDT). While the final recommendation from the CDT isn’t expected until January, early scenarios from the team indicate that expansion of Brookview is supported by approximately 70% of its members. The CDT will meet on Dec. 17 to consider the needs of Brookview, as well as other buildings across the district. They will share their feedback with the board to help in their decision making.

Should the school board approve the lease levy option, district leaders expect construction on the Brookview expansion could begin this spring/summer and the building could be ready for students in 2021. Waiting for a bond referendum would likely mean the building would not be ready for students until 2023.

While boundary changes are imminent as a result of growth in Lake Elmo and Woodbury, further delays to the Brookview expansion would create more urgency for those decisions to be made to relieve overcrowding at Brookview and Lake Elmo, as well as relieve pressure on Andersen, which is at capacity.