To the Editor

As a member of the Henning school board, I write today regarding the upcoming referendum for the Henning School.  Regardless of your personal stance on the referendum, I would like to thank everyone for casting their vote this past November which had a tremendously high voter turnout.  I hope to see another high turnout in the upcoming special election on May 9. If you cannot make the trip to vote that day, I encourage you to vote by absentee ballot vote or early by stopping at the district office!

While I am asking for your support this May for both Q1 and Q2, I want to be transparent on the decisions that will need to be made if this referendum were to not pass again. If this referendum were to fail the school board will still need to address the necessities of our building and may need to consider a board action that would still have an impact on you, as taxpayers.  The school board can act without voter approval to make some building improvements, but this type of action has its limitations in size and scope.  I would very much like to avoid this scenario. This referendum is not a “wish list” of improvements, these are improvements that our school needs to meet educational standards and provide the learning environment that our students deserve.  However, if we were to take action as a board, we would not be able to address all these needs because we cannot levy the appropriate dollar amount to cover all of the costs, which is why we are seeking the referendum vote.  Our school has been maintained, our school has been taken care of, and our school building has not been neglected; however, every asset has a useful life that we need to consider, and that life expectancy has been met in many instances. Even with proper maintenance done to a high-level still has its limitations.

It is important that our voters understand the cost implications that may occur if board action is taken to make some of the necessary repairs. Minnesota allows for an Ag2School tax credit in which 70 percent of the tax increase would be covered by the State of MN General Fund with the remaining 30 percent paid by the agricultural property owner.  The State of MN General Fund is largely funded through income tax and sales tax across the state which in turn is going to be most heavily funded in its areas of high population concentration, in this case the Minneapolis/St. Paul Metro area. As state of Minnesota residents, we are already paying income tax and sales tax, and this would allow for us to pull some of that money back our direction. This tax credit is a huge tool because it reduces the burden on our farmers and allows for rural Minnesota School Districts to continue to grow and thrive.  

Our board held a work session meeting after the March board meeting. In this meeting we began to discuss what the cost implications would be to the taxpayer when comparing a board approved action VS the building bond referendum we are asking you to consider on May 9. We discussed the risks of losing some of the benefits of Ag2School tax credit if the referendum doesn’t pass and we choose to exercise our board authority to levy the cost of the eligible repairs on to the taxpayer. If the referendum were to pass on May 9 the entire project would be eligible for the Ag2School tax credit, which is estimated at 16 percent of the total cost or $4.33 million. When looking at other financing options that the board could act on at a cost to the taxpayer, it’s clear that our action as a board will not get us very far when looking at the necessities of our school. The bottom line is we will get the most value for our money, and your tax dollar, if the referendum passes on May 9.

In conclusion and as I mentioned previously, I want to be as transparent as possible; I am not intending this to be a scare tactic. In fact, I want to be clear that I am speaking to all voters whether you are in favor of, against, or undecided. We have a tremendous opportunity in front of us to position our school for the next 20+ years and we have a great tool in the Ag2Schol tax credit to help lighten the burden. If you would like more information on the upcoming school referendum, please visit our website at If you are a farmer and you would like to know your cost increase with this referendum, you can submit your parcel numbers through the website and then you know your estimated tax impact in 1 to 3 business days. I am personally extending an open invitation to any farmer who wishes to have help estimating your tax impact.  I am willing to help you get your parcels submitted and will work with you!  Please reach out if you have any questions so each voter can make the most informed decision.  


Andy Eckhoff,