I’m excited to reconnect with our students, staff, and families as we begin working toward another successful academic year at Henning Public Schools. 

As you may have heard, the district has been evaluating plans to reinvest in our aging building. We made substantial progress over the summer, and I would like to take a moment to share some details with you.

Last fall, we began this process with a building assessment, educational adequacy study, and demographic analysis. We also conducted a series of community listening sessions with students, staff, district leaders and community members. 

We learned that our school building is failing to meet several state standards for health, safety and security. For example, the wood shop has no ventilation, and the 60-year-old elementary bathrooms do not meet federal accessibility standards. 

Further, education has evolved dramatically since our classrooms and learning spaces were last renovated. The building lacks a dedicated cafeteria and student commons, and our 70-year-old elementary classrooms need significant improvements. 

In addition, our building needs major repairs that our annual maintenance budget cannot address. The gym floor is over 60 years old and requires replacement after being sanded several times. The public announcement system is in poor condition and is difficult to hear. The oldest sections of our roof are 27 years old, and the building exterior has cracks and deteriorating mortar. Making these crucial repairs requires additional funding.

To address our building’s needs, Henning Public School District is asking voters to consider two ballot questions that would provide $26.3 million for major renovations, repairs and additions. 

Question One requests a $21.7 million investment in critical renovations, including improving indoor air quality, building a secured main entrance and office, creating a dedicated cafeteria and commons area, and providing other infrastructure upgrades. Elementary classrooms would be redesigned and updated. Other improvements include a new addition for career and technical education (shop classroom) and a new parking lot with a parent pick-up and drop-off loop.

Question Two would invest $4.6 million in constructing a new gym, replacing roofing and updating outdated restrooms. Question Two is contingent upon Question One, meaning it cannot pass unless Question One also passes. If both questions are approved, the owner of a home with an average value of $200,000 would see an estimated $48 monthly increase in property taxes.

District residents played an important role in helping shape this plan for our school building. Now, our community will decide whether to make this important investment as part of the general election on Nov. 8. 

To provide residents with the information about the school referendum, the district launched a new website at OurSchoolOurHornets.org. There, you can find more details about our building needs, the plan and its cost. You will also find a tax calculator to determine the tax impact on your property and information on voting.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at msparks@henning.k12.mn.us or by phone at (218) 583-2927.

Thank you,

Melissa Sparks