School Board Approves Special Election, Ballot

The Sartell-St. Stephen School Board approved the special election and bond referendum ballot intended to meet student, staff and community needs at a special board meeting on Monday, March 7.  The question approved calls for a $105.8 million one-question ballot to provide more space for the students in the Sartell-St. Stephen School District, enhance safety, security and well-being and support learning for the next generation of learners.

“The needs are great,” said Krista Durrwachter, School Board Chair.  “Buildings are too full to accommodate any more growth.  Our spaces are overcrowded and well used.  We need to continue the excellence the Sartell-St. Stephen School District has provided this community for 50 years.”

What will be funded

If approved, the bond would support a new high school being built on the current Oak Ridge campus.  This building will provide enough space to keep grades 9-12 together, providing a comprehensive high school experience.  The current high school would become a 6-8 middle school.  The current middle school would become a 3-5 intermediate school.  Both Pine Meadow Elementary and Oak Ridge Elementary would become facilities that support four-year-olds through grade 2.  This plan provides space for all learners by having fewer grades housed in each building.  There would also be upgrades to safer entrances so all buildings would have a standard for secure entries. Dehumidification would be added to both Pine Meadow and Oak Ridge to support health and well-being.

Community driven process

The district has been aware of growing enrollment and the need for additional space.  Back in the early 2000's when Oak Ridge was being proposed, the district envisioned another school being needed in approximately ten to fifteen years based on enrollment projections at that time. 

Starting in 2014, in an effort to determine the current educational and facilities needs of the district, the Sartell-St. Stephen School District, supported by the School Board, led a Community Schools Planning Committee.  That group engaged over 100 people in an extensive, in-depth process that looked at facility and student needs, current educational and space realities and future needs.  The group, made up of community leaders, parents, students and district staff, invested their time and talent in nine four-hour meetings, with a great deal of work and research being done in between the sessions. 

In addition to the Community Schools Planning Committee, an enrollment projections study was commissioned for the group to utilize.  A phone survey to over 400 residents also was conducted to get feedback from the broader community.  The Board also worked to gather financial impact information based on a variety on bonding scenarios.

Cost to taxpayers

The bond asks for an investment of $105.8 million in construction, safety and facility improvements, furniture and bonding costs.  This bond would increase property taxes on a home valued at $180,000 by $22.30 per month, or $267.54 a year.  “As a Board, we closely watch how and where our dollars are invested.  This proposal provides the best long-term value to our community,” said Durrwachter.

Impact to students

“This referendum is about doing what is best for our kids.  Our student population continues to grow based on the reputation of our excellent school district,” shared Superintendent Jeff Schwiebert.  “As more families move into the community and more students join our district, we need more space.  Our kids are overcrowded right now.  There are times when we have to make educational decisions based on space limitations.  We need to fix the current space crunch and provide excellence for the next generation of learners.”

Learn more

Visit our website at, email us at or join us at an upcoming community session.




Wednesday, March 23

6:30 PM

Sartell High School*

Tuesday, April 12

8:30 AM

Sartell City Hall

Monday, April 18

6:00 PM

St. Stephen City Hall

Wednesday, April 27

6:30 PM

Sartell Middle School*

Tuesday, May 3

6:00 PM

Oak Ridge Elementary*

*School tours will follow the meeting for those interested