With election day for Henning Public School District’s referendum now less than a few weeks away, I want to thank everyone who has shown interest and asked thoughtful questions about this important decision for our schools.

I want to take this opportunity to answer a few of the most common questions I have received from community members over the past several weeks.

Why are voters being asked to consider a referendum?

Today, sections of our school range from 30 to 70 years old. A range of repairs and deferred maintenance have yet to be completed due to the limitations of our annual maintenance budget, including the replacement of our HVAC system, flooring replacement, replacement of outdated fire alarm and public announcement systems, and general repairs to roofing, sidewalks, and building exteriors.

The school board decided to present a referendum after considering the extent of needed maintenance, the change in the way students learn, and the future needs of Henning students, staff and community members. The board and administration believe the proposed plan aligns with our school mission which is to, “Help Every Child Succeed.”

What will the referendum do, if approved?

Question One would replace our HVAC system, complete a wide range of deferred maintenance, update elementary classrooms, create a multi-purpose cafeteria/commons area, relocate the secured main entrance and the administration offices, add an addition for Career and Technical Education (CTE), and add a parking lot with a parent pick-up/drop-off loop. The $22.7 million investment includes:

• $8.3 million – Deferred maintenance

• $6.9 million – Renovations

• $6.4 million – Additions

• $1.1 million – Site work

Question Two would invest $4.35 million in a new multi-use gymnasium. The full size gym would provide additional space for K-12 physical education classes, athletics, as well as school and community events. Question Two is contingent on Question One, meaning it cannot pass if Question One does not also pass.

Why aren’t we building a new school instead?

A completely new building would cost roughly two to three times as much as the proposed investment plan.

What impact will the referendum have on my taxes if it is approved?

Your tax impact will depend on the value of your property. You can easily view your projected tax impact using the tax calculator or tax tables found at www.OurSchoolOurHornets.org/cost. The owner of a residential home in our district with an average value of $175,000 would pay $30 per month for Question One and $6 per month for Question Two, starting in 2024. If you are 65 or older with a household income of $60,000 or less, you may be eligible to defer a portion of the property taxes on your home through the Senior Citizen Property Tax Deferral Program. To qualify, you must have been a resident in your home for at least 15 years and complete an application through the MN Department of Revenue.

What happens if my property value increases in the future?

Your tax impact will only increase if your property value grows at a faster rate than the district average. For example, if all properties experience a 5 percent increase in value, then everyone’s tax impact remains the same. But if your property value grows by 10 percent during a year when the average property value in our district only grows by 5 percent, your tax impact may increase slightly.

Will the community be able to give input on the design of the project if the referendum passes?

Yes. If voters approve the referendum in May 2023, the district would immediately enter the design phase for the planned renovations and building additions. Led by an architect, this phase would involve input from staff and other community members.

What happens if the referendum fails?

If the referendum is not successful, the school board will discuss what needs cannot wait and likely move forward with funding decisions that do not require voter approval. However, this approach would be less comprehensive, make improvements at a slower pace, and cost relatively more because the district would receive less equalization aid from the state. Since these improvements would still be made using taxpayer funding, the relative cost to taxpayers would also be higher.

When and where is voting?

Election day is Tuesday, May 9. Voting will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. All precincts within Henning School District will vote at Henning City Hall.

Early voting is also available at the District Office on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. until Election Day. There will be extended voting hours Thursday, April 27 until 7 p.m. and Monday, May 8 until 5:00 p.m. Early voting will also be available Saturday, May 6 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where can I find more information?

You can find more details about voting, the needs of our school, and the proposed investment plan by contacting me at the school or by visiting our website: www.OurSchoolOurHornets.org.

Melissa Sparks


Henning Public School District