Just the Facts

This section of the Referendum 2018 website provides facts on rumors heard in the community. If you hear a rumor, please send an email to and we’ll provide an answer.

Is irresponsible spending setting a bad example for children?

The bond referendum is not irresponsible. Not providing adequate space for children to be educated is irresponsible. The school board chose the most cost-effective long-term strategy to address overcrowding at every grade level.

Why does the district spend so much money on office equipment from Marco?

The school district spends about $50,000 to $70,000 each year on replacement equipment, maintenance, repair and equipment leases with Marco. This is what it takes to run a business with 3,200 students and 900 employees. The district prioritizes instruction over all else. Of every dollar, Worthington Schools spends 64% on instruction, 22% on support services, 11% on site, buildings, equipment and supplies; fixed costs, and 3% on district and school administration.

How was the bus building paid for? How much did it cost? Did my property taxes go up to pay for that building?

The school board approved the use of approximately $2.3 million in general fund dollars to construct the bus building. No tax increase was necessary to pay for the building.

How was the addition on the high school paid for? How much did it cost? Did my property taxes go up to pay for it?

The school board approved the use of approximately $6.3 million general fund dollars for the high school addition. No tax increase was necessary.

How will the proposed collaborative project be paid for? How will it impact my taxes?

A multi-purpose facility, which would potentially include a county library and Community Education programming that includes Early Childhood and Adult Basic Education along with the Nobles County Integration Collaborative, is proposed. This project is still in development, so a total cost and tax impact are not known, but the school district, city and county are committed to keeping the tax impact low. A mix of funding from each of the partners, including bonding and general fund dollars is proposed.

What is the average life expectancy of a school building in Minnesota?

Approximately 60+ years, but of course that depends on repairs and upkeep over that time period. Some buildings last longer than others and can depend on many variables such as the type of construction. Predicting approximately how long before the district will need to build another school building is difficult because it depends on the growth of the community and enrollment growth. The 2018 referendum proposal will take us well into the future. The good news: as the community grows, so does the tax base, spreading infrastructure investment, including roads, sewer, water and schools, across more people and businesses.

How much will the district actually pay for the communication consultant to help with the referendum? 


How can I trust that the new high school is the right size?

Square feet per student is among the lowest in the conference, and will remain that way.

We are currently at 164 square feet per student, by far the lowest in the conference, and will be at 215 square feet per student if the new high school is built, when West Learning Center is demolished, and when the ALC/Gymnastics building is occupied. The rest of the conference schools range from 214 to 325 square feet per student, and the average is 270 square feet per student.

The conference average excludes Worthington for simplicity as there are two data points, now and 2021.

Click to see the full comparison chart

How can I trust that the new high school is the right COST?

New construction cost is comparable to recent MN projects. Looking at two recently bid high schools, New Ulm and St. Cloud, the estimated cost for a new Worthington High School falls squarely in the middle.

Did costs for construction go up since the 2016 referendum?

Yes. The bond interest rates have risen by nearly a full 1% (equal to more than an $11 million increase over the life of the bond) and regional market construction costs have increased by 3.6% to 4.1% (equal to more than $2 million).

If this bond issue fails will the board cut Phy. Ed and Music programs?

No. If the referendum fails, in the next two years, we would continue to increase class or section sizes at all levels. In the long-term, the district would move toward changing our traditional model of education services on its head by considering a rotational/year-round school schedule starting at the elementary in 2020-2021, then middle school, then high school – 25% of the students would be off for three months, rotating through each season of summer, fall, winter, and spring, while 75% are in school.

Can the Ag2Schools 40% farm-land tax credit change every 3 years?

Like any law, it could change every year, but it’s highly unlikely. The tax credit was supported by a large coalition of education and farm groups, and passed by a large bi-partisan majority. Changing it would amount to a tax increase which would not be likely to receive support.

Could you use fund balance to buy down bonds used to build the high school?

Yes, we are always evaluating the best use of fund balance. The school board has many priorities on which to use the fund balance, and intends to stay within its own guidelines on how much fund balance to maintain.

Where does Community Ed go in the new plan?

Ideally, Community Education would be housed in a new multi-use, shared facility on city property and sharing space with county services, including a welcome center and library. If that project does not come together, the program may move to Prairie Elementary School. In the short-term, Community Ed programs would continue to be housed at West Learning Center.

Will the school district solicit bids to build the new high school?

Yes. We cannot go out to bid until the referendum is approved by voters. It will take a year to develop plans before we go out to bid. The architectural firm was selected from interviews of four different companies.

Is the district planning to buy land for a new district office building?

No. We need to address our academic needs now. Nothing else is in discussion.