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The vote on the school referendum plan is just days away. What will this vote mean to our community? How will it impact our students? Why is it needed? Overall, the Aug. 14 school bond referendum seeks to equip our community with collaborative learning environments and sought-out activity spaces that engage and elevate our students and our community. It focuses on right-sizing our school facilities and equipping us with spaces we need to meet educational needs today and into the future. Here’s a look at five of the key impacts of the vote on Aug. 14: 1. New Auditorium Benson Schools had to close the auditorium in May 2017 after the ceiling collapsed on the 1928 building. In the past year, there have been over 100 requests for uses for an auditorium. A new 600-seat auditorium would provide enhanced experiences for our students and the community with dedicated performing arts space for concerts, theater and dance performances. It would significantly improve accessibility to make it easy and more inviting for all to attend. The auditorium would be available for community use and be a place that brings our community together and draws others to Benson. 2. Added Security School safety remains in the national headlines and a top priority for Benson Public Schools. This plan creates new secured entrances at both the elementary and high school buildings to give our students and families added peace of mind. The offices for Community Education, activities, school resource officer and the high school also will move next to the new main entrance for convenient access by parents and community members. 3. Combined Preschool-5th Grade Building This plan meets the community’s request to move 5th grade students to the elementary school in a dedicated building that will serve our community’s earliest learners through 5th graders. 4. New Early Learning Center In the past four years, Benson Schools has grown to serve 87 percent of local 4-year-olds and engages children from birth to equip them in the critical early years and prepare them for success in school. The new early learning center would be added on to Northside Elementary to more efficiently meet the needs of the community’s earliest learners in a safe and dedicated space that provides a smooth transition to kindergarten. 5. Collaborative Learning Environments Benson Public Schools offers the most college level classes and career enrichment activities in the area. Seeking to continue to equip our students for their futures, this plan includes collaborative learning spaces for grades 7-12. In these spaces, students will experience more hands-on activities where they can work together to problem solve, seek new information and become the critical thinkers the modern-day workforce needs. A special thanks to each of the 45 members of the Community Task Force who volunteered hours to evaluate our district’s learning and facility needs, discover what’s working in other schools and develop a plan to meet the community’s vision. \Click to learn more about the process, the plan and the impact. Vote on Aug. 14.
Posted by dzimmerman  On Aug 09, 2018 at 3:56 PM
  
Benson Public Schools is asking the community to vote on a school referendum on Aug. 14 as a part of the primary election. Some voters, particularly those living in area townships, will receive ballots in the mail from the county. If you receive a mailed ballot, complete it and mail it back to the county. Other voters can cast their vote at their polling location on Aug. 14 or by visiting the their county election office any time during regular business hours before Aug. 14. Click to find your county election office. Anyone can vote absentee before Aug. 14 and it's easy to register to vote on the spot. Here's a look at how you will vote based on where you live: Swift County Benson Armory: Benson P-1 Benson P-2 Benson Twp. Torning Twp. DeGraff City Office: DeGraff Kildare Twp. West Bank Town Hall: West Bank Twp. Mailed Ballot: (Mailed on July 10) Camp Lake Twp. Cashel Twp. Clontarf Clontarf Twp. Danvers Dublin Twp. Kerkhoven Twp. Marysland Twp. Six Mile Grove Twp. Swenoda Twp. Tara Twp. Pope County Hoff Twp. - Mail Ballot (Mailed July 16) Langhei Twp. - Mail Ballot (Mailed July 16) Rolling Forks Twp. - Precinct Chippewa County Mandt Twp. - Mail Ballot (Mailed around July 25) Grace Twp. - Mail Ballot (Mailed around July 25) Register to Vote Are you registered to vote? Click to check your status online. Click to register to vote today. Vote Absentee Voters also can vote early by mail by applying for an absentee ballot from the Minnesota Secretary of State. Ballots will be sent starting June 29 for the Aug. 14 Primary Election. Ballots will not be counted if they are received after Aug. 14. Click to request an absentee ballot. Preparing to Vote Voters can begin preparing for the vote by viewing the sample ballot and learning more about the plans. Attend an upcoming information meeting on July 18 and Aug. 7 and get your questions answered. Click to view a sample ballot. Click to learn more about the referendum plans.
Posted by dzimmerman  On Aug 08, 2018 at 2:13 PM
  
Imagine coming together in small groups to solve a problem. Each individual brings skills to the table and together the group explore strategies, troubleshoots and reaches a desired outcome. It's a natural experience in the workforce and one that schools like Benson are seeking to give students. It's the modern day approach to teaching and learning. It starts with teachers and curriculum, but also requires intentional spaces designed with these outcomes in mind. Schools across the state and nation have been integrating new collaborative learning environments into their facilities to engage, equip and empower 21st century learners. Research shows taking a collaborative approach to learning achieves better outcomes for students, including: Higher academic achievement Greater productivity More supportive relationships between students Improved psychological health Better self-esteem Increased social competence. These collaborative learning environments designed especially for students, grades 6-12, are a part of the Community Equipped referendum plan developed by a 45-member Community Task Force for Benson Public Schools. It will go before voters on Aug. 14. A rendering of the proposed space is below:
Posted by dzimmerman  On Aug 08, 2018 at 8:01 AM
  
Benson Public Schools is equipping students in new ways to ensure they are ready for the next step and their future careers. In the past three years alone, Benson students earned over 2,000 college credits for free while still in high school. That has saved local families nearly $750,000 in just three years. This enables students to stay challenged and engaged in learning throughout their high school experience. They get a jumpstart on college from the comforts of home and enter college ready to explore career fields. Through partnerships with local employers, Benson High School students also have access to a rising number of internships where they can apply what they're learning in the classroom and discover potential career paths, including those that allow them to stay here in Benson. Last year, Benson High doubled the number of internships and hours spent at internships. "We want our students to see how what they're learning makes a difference and develop passions for their future careers," Superintendent Dennis Laumeyer said. "Our Benson students continue to be eager for new opportunities. They want to work as teams, solve problems and produce something meaningful." Students have learned everything from welding and using specialized industry software and plasma cutter to designing websites, repairing engines and building furniture.  A facility plan, developed by a 45-member Community Task Force, includes adding collaborative learning environments at Benson High School designed especially for students, grades 6-12, to work together in small groups to apply their learning and solve problems in a way that capitalizes on one another's skills and resources. The plan will go before voters on Aug. 14.
Posted by dzimmerman  On Aug 08, 2018 at 7:46 AM
  
In case you missed it, here's a look at coverage of the 2018 bond referendum in the local media. Click on the headlines to view the articles. $26 Million Referendum in Benson School District August 1, 2018 - West Central Tribune "With low interest rates and the new state tax credit that will reduce the financial burden for agricultural land affected by school capital bonding, Laumeyer said the timing could be right to gain approval." Remember Who the School Building is About July 17, 2018 - Swift County Monitor Record (Editorial) "The plan before voters was developed by fellow citizens who studied in-depth the needs of our students, community, and businesses. They looked hard at the costs and options. The plan before us is the best set of proposals for meeting the needs of our children and community. To delay action further would not only be an abandonment of our responsibility to those children but also to our business community." Description of Proposed School Construction Project July 17, 2018 - Swift County Monitor Record "Benson Public Schools, lSD #777, is proposing a bond referendum on August 14,  2018, that would authorize $26.3 million in bonding authority to finance facility improvements at the elementary and middle/high school attendance centers."  Many Show Up to Hear School Building Proposal June 29, 2018 - Swift County Monitor Record "More than 70 people attended the first meeting sponsored by Benson Public Schools to inform the public about the purpose of the proposed $26.3 million building levy referendum to be voted on Aug. 14." Building a Better Future for Our Children June 28, 2018 - Swift County Monitor Record "We have no children or grandchildren in the Benson schools. But that is not what we base our decision on to wholeheartedly support this referendum. We back this referendum because it is our turn to support the future of the community’s children. It is our turn to support the needs of the businesses of the community. It is our turn to support the needs of our faculty to have modern, quality facilities in which to teach our children." Benson School Levy Should Be Our Focus April 18, 2018 - Swift County Monitor Record "Benson Public Schools is studying options for addressing building maintenance needs as well as essential facility upgrades that could cost between $20 and $29 million. It has brought three citizen groups together to give it input on the most critical building needs." School Board Pleased with Citizen Input on Buildings Feb. 9, 2018 - Swift County Monitor Record "All the (community) groups agreed that it is imperative that the district’s buildings be very attractive and “vibrant.” For people to notice change there has to be a change they can drive up to and see." School Board Seeks Citizen Input on Referendum January 12, 2018 - Swift County Monitor Record "The Benson school board is seeking volunteers to serve on a school committee to analyze the school facilities. Each committee will work independently with the school architect and superintendent to analyze the current facilities and make a facilities improvement recommendation to the board. This is a grassroots effort where the community will help shape the direction of the district facilities by assisting the school board." School Could Set Levy for May January 5, 2018 - Swift County Monitor Record "Benson Public Schools could be going to the voters in May asking them to support a levy referendum for basic maintenance and upgrading of district buildings. Just what the projects would be and what they would cost has to be decided yet. School board members are going to rely on input from a cross-section of district citizens for direction on the scope of a building renovation project. Those citizens will be brought together for several meetings, given a tour of facilities, told what problems each has and the challenges the problems present."  
Posted by dzimmerman  On Aug 02, 2018 at 10:25 AM
  
By Dennis Laumeyer, Superintendent Aug. 14 marks a defining day for Benson Public Schools. After months of planning and preparation, Benson area residents will vote on a referendum plan to equip our community with collaborative learning environments and sought-out activity spaces that engage and elevate our students and our community. We have a lot to be proud of here in Benson through the enhanced opportunities we provide students to prepare them to learn, earn college credits and gain lifelong skills through a variety of electives and extracurricular activities. Here are answers to a few key questions as you prepare to vote on Aug. 14: What is the state tax credit on this project? The Minnesota Legislature approved a permanent Ag2School 40 percent tax credit that went into effect in 2017. It gives agriculture land owners and private timber land owners significant tax relief on school bonds and has tripled the state share. When applying it in Benson, this group of local landowners will pay 42 percent of this levy and the state of Minnesota now will pay 28 percent of their portion. That means the state will contribute $11 million to the project, including interest. How do our taxes compare to others? Benson Schools ranks lowest in total taxes compared to neighboring districts and this proposed project still will keep the school district tax bill below average. What about interest? Like with mortgages and other loans, this project also will have interest. The current rate of about 4 percent is very low. Waiting likely would increases costs. The average impact on a local taxpayer is $6.92 a month, including interest. Where did this plan come from? Benson Public Schools called for volunteers last year to assist with evaluating the district’s educational needs and creating an action plan. It led to the development of a 45-member task force representing farmers, business leaders, parents, staff and community members who worked meticulously to develop a plan that is the vision for our school and community. How is the district’s enrollment? Benson Public Schools has seen growth in a series of areas, primarily among our community’s youngest learners. Last year’s kindergarten class represented the largest group in our elementary school and Benson Schools now serves 87 percent of the local 4-year-olds in our preschool program to prepare them for school and future success. This plan focuses on right sizing our spaces.The plan adds 55,000 square feet, updates 23,000 square feet, and removes 112,000 square feet. Who gets to bid on the project? The construction-related bids would be released in small amounts so local contractors have an opportunity to bid on the project. Attend Aug. 7 Meeting Learn more about the project and ask questions at an upcoming meeting on Aug. 7. The meeting will provide an overview of the project with a focus on collaborative learning spaces and security plans. It also will include a review and comment portion. The meeting will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. at Benson High School Cafeteria. Get updates and learn more today by following the district on Facebook or viewing referendum news.
Posted by dzimmerman  On Aug 02, 2018 at 8:01 AM
  
Benson Public Schools today unveiled the proposed site plan and exterior rendering for the Northside Elementary addition. The plan would bring together the district's earliest learners and grades K-5 in one convenient, safe and dedicated space that promotes active learning. Learn more about the referendum plans for the district. Key components of the referendum vote on Aug. 14 at Northside Elementary include: A nearly 15,000-square-foot Early Childhood Addition that will accommodate district's child care and preschool programs 40-unit parking lot with convenient drop-off for early childhood A new 3,000-square-foot multi-use space that will serve as a cafeteria, activity space and collaborative learning environment Remodeled kitchen More secure entry Under this plan, the district would add about 18,000 square feet at Northside Elementary, as shown in dark red below, and remodel a total of 1,600 square feet, as highlighted in light red: View the site plan and rendering for Benson High School.
Posted by dzimmerman  On Jul 23, 2018 at 12:17 PM
  
More than 65 community members gathered Wednesday night at Northside Elementary to learn more about the school district's growing preschool and elementary programs and facility plans to meet key needs. A panel of educators shared how Benson Public Schools has seen increased demand for early learning programs in the community. Last year, Benson Schools... Served 87 percent of the local 4-year-olds in its preschool program. Educated 70 kindergarteners, representing the largest class at Northside Elementary. Added early learning and child care services for infants and toddlers to fill a community gap and ensure the youngest residents will be school-ready. (Current wait listing) Equipped 179 children through the Discovery Kids early learning program. Served more than 400 students in PreK-5th grade. A new dedicated early learning center, parking lot , secure entry and elementary cafeteria are among the key components of the school referendum plan that the community will vote on Aug. 14 as a part of the primary election.  Click to view slide presentation with more details. Click to learn more about the plan.
Posted by dzimmerman  On Jul 20, 2018 at 9:36 AM
  
Members of the Community Task Force that led to the 2018 bond referendum talk about the process and plan on KSCR. Those interviewed included:  Dave Nagler - Landowner Jesse Hughes - Business Owner and Landowner Jim Hilleren - Landowner Tim Nagler - Landowner Eric Peterson - Business Leader Dennis Laumeyer - School Superintendent Listen to the interview.
Posted by dzimmerman  On Jul 05, 2018 at 3:42 PM
  
By Superintendent Dennis Laumeyer When I first came to Benson, the school district’s history of providing a large number of quality enrichment activities caught my attention. Over the years, I have seen a growing number of students participate in a variety of activities. In a year, we’ve had more than 350 students in choir and band, over 75 in theater, and over 200 dancers. So, I understood the disappointment in May 2017 when the district had to close the 1928 auditorium after the ceiling collapsed. In the past year, it has meant limiting access and learning opportunities for students. The broader community felt it, too, as the district moved concerts, theater productions and dance programs to the gymnasium. We have not had enough room for everyone and the seating has been inadequate, especially those who have accessibility limitations and our elderly residents. The Aug. 14 bond referendum seeks to change that. A new auditorium that would seat 600 people in comfortable theater-style environment and have full accessibility for all is among the key components of the upcoming bond referendum. Meeting Key Needs The $26-million plan developed by the 45-member Community Task Force aims to meet key needs of the community with a minimal tax impact, including: Create new dedicated auditorium space and add music room at high school Create child care and early learning center at Northside Elementary School Add Northside cafeteria, which also provides needed activity and community space Remove 90-year-old auditorium Remove 90 and 68 year old junior high buildings Create a PreK- grade 5 dedicated learning center at Northside Develop a 6-12th grade secondary school Develop collaborative learning environments to engage junior and high school students Repurpose pool to activity space Upgrade secure entries at elementary and high schools This will mark the school district’s first major remodel since 1994. Efficient Use Overall, this project promotes the efficient use of the district's current facilities and update spaces to meet the changing needs of education. This project will add about 55,000 square feet, remove 112,000 square feet and update more than 21,000 square feet. Attend Meetings & Tours We will continue to share more details on the plan in the coming weeks. Join us at Northside Elementary for the next informational meeting and tour from 6-7:30 pm on July 18. The meeting will focus on plans for child care and early learning through elementary, new cafeteria/activity space and safety upgrades. Learn more today and receive updates by following Benson Public Schools on Facebook and Twitter.  
Posted by dzimmerman  On Jul 05, 2018 at 11:43 AM
  
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