Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - Voters in the Rochester School District could be asked to approve a nearly $200 million school bond issue next fall. The Rochester School District Facilities Task Force will be looking guidance from the Rochester School Board next week after the group brings forward some of the ideas it is exploring as the members prepare to present their final recommendations in late November.

The ideas under consideration will be presented as three draft options. All three include the construction of a fourth Middle School, most likely in southwest Rochester. Two of the options also call for a new elementary school along with rebuilding one or two existing elementary schools to boost capacity. The third option would address all of the need for new space at the elementary level by the construction of larger buildings at three existing school sites. Superintendent Michael Munoz says the rebuilding option would allow students to continue using the existing school buildings until the new school is ready, at which time the old building would be demolished. The sites considered for reconstruction are identified in the draft report as Churchill, Bishop, and Longfellow.

The Task Force is also considering relocating some of the school district’s choice schools to increase capacity. Those options could include moving the 45-15 school to Pinewood, the Montessori School to Hoover and the Friedell Middle School program to the new Middle School.

The estimated price tags of the options, factoring in inflationary increases prior to the start of construction, range from about $130 million to a bit over $163 million. The Facilities Task Force is also looking at a fourth option to fund upgrades at existing schools, including gyms, auditoriums and swimming pools, that would add almost $29 million to the total. The least expensive option is one that calls for a new elementary, a new middle school and reconstructing Bishop elementary, while the two other options carry similar price tags.

The task force report lists the estimated impact of various size bond issues on the average property tax bill for the owner of a $200,000 home. It ranges from around $120 dollars a year on the high side to about $85 dollars a year on the low end of the cost spectrum if the school upgrades option is tacked on.

Superintendent Munoz says the school board intends to conduct a survey early next year to gauge the level of support for the options included in the final recommendations by the task force before making a decision on what proposal to bring to the voters. He anticipates an election on a school bond issue referendum next November. If it’s approved, actual construction would likely start in 2021.