School Board Determines Bond Referendum Question

Cass Lake-Bena School District Referendum not approved by Voters

The $37.8 million bond referendum question on the November 7 ballot for the Cass Lake-Bena School District was not approved by voters. Results are available here. The bond referendum requested funding for facility improvements throughout the district to address overcrowding at the elementary school among other issues. Since voters did not approve the referendum question, the district will continue its current operations and work with the school board to reevaluate how to temporarily address issues that would have been resolved by the referendum’s approval.

About the Referendum

At a meeting on August 3, the Cass Lake-Bena School Board approved moving forward with a $37.8 million bond referendum to address the district’s facility needs. The question will be included on the ballot in the Tuesday, November 7, election.

The bond question will ask voters to approve the funding needed to construct a new intermediate grades 3-5 elementary school on the district’s current middle school and high school campus; repurpose the existing elementary school into a PreK-2 school; replace the oldest section of the ALC/DRC and make repairs and improvements to the ALC; and make repairs and improvements at the middle school and high school.

The 20-year bond would cost taxpayers approximately $167 a year on a home valued at $100,000. To view a preliminary tax impact chart, click here.

Tax impact calculator: This website provides information specifically for taxpayers of Cass Lake-Bena Schools regarding how the district’s proposed bond referendum would affect their property taxes.

To view the official ballot language, click here.

For voting information, including details on polling locations and hours, voter registration, and absentee voting, click here.

If approved, the $37.8 million bond would be used to complete the following projects:

Build a new intermediate grades 3-5 elementary school
  1. 75,000-square-foot building on the middle school/high school campus
  2. Larger gym for community and potential wrestling use
  3. To see a concept plan, click here, and to see a map, click here.
Renovate existing elementary school into a PreK-grade 2 primary school
  1. Renovate first grade wing for PreK classrooms
  2. Upgrade kindergarten rooms in existing locations
  3. Repurpose existing grades 2-4 wings into classrooms
  4. Renovate existing space for improved and additional special education spaces
  5. Replace lockers and renovate locker bays
  6. Replace boiler heating plant
  7. To see a concept plan, click here.
Upgrade and repair the Alternative Learning Center (ALC) and District Resource Center (DRC)
  1. Upgrade ALC science classroom
  2. Secure entry and relocation of ALC administration offices to first floor
  3. Demolish the 1954 section of the building and replace it with an addition that includes restrooms, gym storage, and special education classrooms..
  4. Upgrade fire protection systems
  5. Upgrade ALC and gym mechanical and electrical systems
  6. Repair high-priority exterior items
  7. Upgrade security cameras (interior and exterior)
  8. Make gym upgrades
  9. To see a concept plan, click here.
High school repairs and improvements
  1. Secure entry and office renovation
  2. Replace gym bleachers
  3. Add ventilation to fitness center
  4. Make mechanical improvements – add ventilation to the fitness center, data closet cooling and water heater replacement
  5. Repair high-priority exterior items
  6. Upgrade security cameras
Middle school repairs and improvements
  1. Boiler plant capacity improvements
  2. Secure main entry upgrade
  3. Add dehumidification to cafeteria and gym
  4. Upgrade security camera and paging systems
  5. Repurpose areas to create flexible small group learning spaces and additional special education spaces
Facilities assessment

During the past year, Cass Lake-Bena Schools conducted a process to assess how well its current facilities meet the needs of students, staff, and the community. The process included an assessment of the district’s educational adequacy, or how well its facilities are supporting the district’s instructional mission and methods. The process also included gathering input from staff and the community, examining the condition of existing facilities, and assessing demographics and student enrollment projections.

The most critical findings from the facility assessment include:

  1. Cass Lake-Bena Elementary School is overcrowded, and many spaces are already too small for the number of students the school serves (including the gym and cafeteria).
  2. The elementary school does not have adequate space for special education needs.
  3. The elementary school does not have enough early childhood classrooms – there is currently a significant waitlist for the early childhood program.
  4. The middle school is currently above the target capacity of students per classroom and is lacking small group learning spaces and adequate special education space.
  5. The mechanical and electrical systems at the Alternative Learning Center (ALC) and District Resource Center (DRC) are past their service lives, and the boilers in the elementary school are 50 years old and in need of replacement.
Community input results

Thank you to those who attended community engagement meetings to share feedback on the assessment and preliminary options.

Community input results from the November 29, 2016, session include:

Community input results from the May 9, 2017, session include:

Results from a June community survey are available here.

Community input results from the July 13, 2017, session include:

If you have questions about the assessment process or November 7 referendum, please contact Superintendent Rochelle Johnson at 218-335-2204 or