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Worthington Residents Turn Down $38.975 Million Bond

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Update: Worthington residents have turned down a nearly $39 million bond issue. The bond failed by 793 votes.

Since 2006, the Worthington School District has seen student enrollment increase by about 600 students. Over the next four years, the district is expected to see 250 more kids. Tuesday, residents had the chance to vote on whether to make more space for them, but that space comes at a cost.

Worthington School District Superintendent John Landgaard said, "The increase that's happening now is kind of coming at a quicker pace than what we originally planned for."

The Worthington School District is growing at a rapid pace and Landgaard says it's only going to get worse.

Landgaard said, "It's not going away. We are seeing growth that's going to continue and that's something we're trying to address by this bond referendum."

So, the district has come up with a plan: construct a new intermediate school next to the existing elementary school and improve the currently elementary school, which is already over capacity; forcing the district to get creative.

Landgaard said, "We're using a room that was designed as an art room as a regular classroom. We're using planning centers as a classroom."

The plan would also allow the district to remodel and expand Worthington High School, where music students are using storage rooms, hallways and even bathrooms as practice rooms.
"It's putting pressure on some of our specialty areas which is cafeterias, gymnasium space, music rooms, and rooms. All those different rooms that were designed for a specific number of kids, were having to put more in those classrooms," said Landgaard.

With more space, comes a hefty price tag. Residents have to decide whether to approve a $38.975 million bond, which would cause property taxes to rise. It would cost $87 more a year for those who own a $100,000 home. Because of Minnesota's tax structure, others would take an even bigger hit.

"Unfortunately, on the bond referendum, it rally puts a high impact on our farm community. Ag land gets hit pretty hard and ends up paying about 50 percent of the total bond costs," said Landgaard.

With that said, residents have a big decision to make to make more room in 2016.

Polls close at the high school close at 8:00 p.m. Tuesday night.

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