ISD 761 Referendum update


The Owatonna school district referendum was passed on Nov. 3, 2015, making it the first time since 1996 that the school district has been approved to add and improve the school’s buildings. The entire referendum, which is worth $77.9 million, includes many upgrades and additions to existing buildings in the district. The approved plan is to close down Washington school as an elementary school and convert it to an ALC building. Then, the current Willow Creek building will be added onto and converted from a 6th grade school to a K-5 elementary school. In addition to that, the Junior high will receive an addition and become a 6-8 middle school. Other than these major additions, there will be smaller additions to Lincoln and McKinley elementary schools that include new gym spaces. The added gym space will eliminate the need to use gyms as cafeterias.The next thing listed in the referendum is deferred maintenance and security updates. All schools in the district will receive new and updated security systems. Deferred maintenance includes: fixing or updating parking lots, boilers, heaters, cooling systems, plumbing and electrical and fire safety systems. The more detailed plans are on the Owatonna Public School’s website (


Since the referendum has been passed, the school district has come up with a timeline with specific dates that these projects should be completed by. Currently, there are committees meeting to come up with design and programming plans for Willow Creek as well as the Junior high. The committees are meeting with Wold Architects, who have been working with the school district for about two years now, and are made up of teachers, staff members, parents and students. It is said that by mid April, these committees will bring their designs/recommendations to the school board to be approved. The school board then must decide if these designs are feasible, whether they should stay inside the budget and whether they can be completed in a reasonable amount of time. The school district will work alongside DonLar Construction Management Company to make sure that projects are completed on time and within the budgets guidelines. Once the school board approves the plans, the school district will then create bid documents, which are used to hire contractors and subcontractors, for the additions that will be made to Willow Creek and the Junior high. These documents will be sent out by the end of July to the early part of August. Then, sometime in September, bids will be awarded out to people.


If all goes well, the security upgrades will be done by the time the 2016-2017 school year starts. Once the bid documents are awarded, some constructions will start on Willow Creek and the Junior high in Nov. of 2016. Both Willow Creek and the Junior high should be completed by the fall of 2017. After these two projects are completed, the remaining deferred maintenance projects will be completed. The deferred maintenance projects should be completed by the fall of 2018.

All in all, the construction projects and school upgrades should be completed by the fall of 2018.There have been some questions surrounding where Washington elementary school students will go once their school is converted to the ALC building. As of now, there isn’t a specific answer for that. The committees that are meeting now will come up with a possible solution and bring it the the school board in April. One of these solutions includes moving Washington students out to the newly converted Willow Creek school and the other solution involves moving McKinley students out to Willow Creek and Washington students to McKinley. Superintendent, Peter Grant said, “The goal is to balance out the number of kids that attend each elementary school.” There are multiple ways to do this, and these are just two ways. Overall, there are many questions that will be answered when the committees report to the school board this April.