ZUMBROTA -- The Zumbrota-Mazeppa School Board voted on Aug. 12 to submit three questions to the state for review and comment for their upcoming referendum.

The board unanimously voted to submit the following three questions:

  • Question 1: $39 million

  • Question 2: $3.6 million

  • Question 3: $5 million

Once the board submits these amounts and they are approved by the state, the amounts can only be reduced, not increased.

Superintendent Michael Harvey explained to the board that trusting the survey results is paramount to their success. The board held a public meeting on Aug. 7 to discuss a community wide survey.

During the public meeting, the board didn’t have comments from the community survey to discuss. At the Aug. 12 meeting, the board was able to discuss the top five comments from the 824 survey respondents:

  1. Respondents want to keep all district schools open

  2. Respondents understand that an investment is needed to update the schools

  3. Respondents do not believe that now is the time to update athletic facilities

  4. Respondents are concerned about additional taxes

  5. Improving school security is an important focus for some respondents

Separating the academics from the athletics was important to the community, according to Harvey.

With that in mind, Question 1 focuses on classroom and facility improvements at all sites.

Question 2 focuses on a new auxiliary gymnasium in Mazeppa, with the old gymnasium becoming a cafeteria.

Question 3 focuses on a new auxiliary gymnasium at the high school, a varsity baseball, soccer and football field upgrade, and modifying the existing stadium for track and field competition.

The survey was clear, Harvey said. The community wants a reduced cost on the referendum and they want to stay informed.

The top two reasons for why respondents voted “no” to the $49.95 million referendum in May were they felt the referendum was too expensive, i.e., the tax impact was too large, and they lacked trust in the district’s planning process.

Most respondents said they were informed about the referendum based on school mailings. Harvey said the board will need to continue to engage the public in the planning process.

A special School Board will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 19 at the Zumbrota-Mazeppa Middle/High School for a final vote to approve the three questions.