Mora schools are asking again: Will the community pay $61.9 million to build a new high school, or will the school have to resort to “Plan B”?

The next referendum

The Mora Public Schools Board of Education will present voters with another school bond referendum regarding new construction to replace the Mora High School. The motion passed unanimously during a special school board meeting on Feb. 10. 

The special election will take place at the Mora City Hall on May 12, 2020. 

This time around, the ballot will present a single question asking voters to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’, authorizing the school to bond for $61.9 million with the purpose of building a grades 7-12 addition to the Trailview campus. If approved, bond money would be used to demolish the exiting high school with the intent of selling the property.

If approved, the tax impact of the bond would be $320 per year for a residential home with an estimated market value of $125,000. 

The backup plan

School administrators say time is running out for the school to begin new construction before the existing high school will need significant repairs to remain functional. 

If the referendum does not pass, the school board is the closest they have come to opting for a “Plan B”: raising taxes without voter approval to repairing the existing high school. 

The school board may choose to operate what is called a “building lease levy.” In Minnesota, elected school boards have the power to tax property owners to pay construction costs. This does not require a public vote as long as it is approved by a vote of the school board.

The school board will finalize this backup plan and start taking necessary steps to begin taxing property owners quickly should the bond referendum fail. 

Finalizing this plan B is scheduled for the Mora school board’s next regular meeting on Feb. 27 meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the Mora High School Board Room.

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