Phase I

Phase I addresses immediate needs of security, accessibility, and asset preservation through a four-year bond of $9.42 million. (Tax impact of about $20/year on $100,000 home).

Phase II

Phase II initiates a multi-year study of facilities to identify the community’s preference to address long-term needs.

Estimated Tax Impact

$100,000 $1.42 $17.00
$150,000 $2.58 $31.00
$200,000 $3.67 $44.00
$250,000 $4.75 $57.00

2018 Bond Referendum

July 2019 Update

Thank you for your support!

Dear Winona Area Public Schools District Residents,

On behalf of the WAPS School Board and staff, I want to take this opportunity to thank our communities for their support of this referendum. This was our first successful building bond referendum since the Winona Middle School was built. The passage of the bond referendum will allow the district to enhance safety and security for our students, staff, and guests, improve accessibility for people with disabilities, and address our critical facility needs. Additional thanks to the members of the Community Task Force on Facilities, whose work was instrumental in developing the facilities plan, and the members of the Vote Yes committee for their work supporting our students.

Planning for the projects that the voters approved will begin immediately and construction will take place in the summers of 2019 and 2020. Winona Area Public Schools website will provide regular updates on the referendum projects throughout the process. For more information visit

I also want to congratulate the winning school board candidates and thank all of the candidates for running. We’re looking forward to moving forward, together, to best meet the needs of all WAPS students.

Thank you for your continued support. 
Rich Dahman - Winona Area Public Schools Superintendent

Unofficial results: 
Yes - 8,588 (56%) 
No -  6,746 (44%)

Quick Facts

Winona Area Public Schools (WAPS) is seeking a bond referendum for $9,420,000 on the November 2018 ballot. Funds from a successful bond referendum will allow WAPS to address critical and urgent projects along with renovating buildings to be ADA compliant and increase the safety of our students and staff. The projects to be funded fall under two areas:


The proposed safety and security improvements include additional security technology at all of the district buildings. This includes additional security cameras, lockdown buttons and strobes, and control of exterior doors. In addition, the funds will allow for the creation of secure vestibules at Jefferson and Washington Kosciusko elementary schools and the Early Childhood entrance at Goodview School.


Several critical building maintenance and repair projects are proposed at all buildings with the exception of the Area Learning Center, which is a newer facility. The proposed projects will include improving exterior and interior handicapped accessibility, replacement of life safety systems such as fire alarms, replacement of aging electric and plumbing systems, HVAC and resealing or replacement of hard surface play areas and parking lots.

These projects were identified through a long range planning process that included a Community Task Force on Facilities that met in 2016 and again in 2018. Based on recommendations from the task force and feedback from a community survey, the WAPS Board of Education voted to put forth a bond referendum on November 2018.


What is the difference between a bond levy and an operating levy?

A Bond levy provides funds to be used specifically for building projects. These projects can include renovations and repairs, building additions or new construction. Winona Area Public Schools district residents last approved a bond referendum in 1997 for the construction of the middle school.

An Operating levy provides funds above the state allocation for learning and district operations. This includes salaries, utilities, busing, supplies and co-curricular programs. Winona Area Public School district residents approved an operating levy in 2016 along with a capital levy for technology.

Both levies require voter approval as they impact property taxes.

Why is the bond referendum needed?

Building bond referendums are one of the funding mechanisms provided for public school districts in Minnesota. The state provides very little funding for facilities improvements. It is expected that local communities provide the funding to build and maintain school facilities. A bond referendum is a necessary part of financing school projects. The District has not had a bond referendum since 1997 with the construction of the new middle school. We must begin to address building needs as our facilities continue to age.

How will the bond referendum benefit the community?

The public school system is an important part of the fabric of our area and communities. Good public schools contribute to high property values. Families consider this while choosing a location to move their families. Our public schools help support the entire community. An essential part of a healthy community is educated and productive citizens. Public schools are key to attaining that goal.

The school buildings are utilized way beyond the school day and school year. In 2017-2018 there were 49 community groups that used the facilities for a total of 9,199 hours. Internal groups such as athletics and activities, community education programs including middle school after school activities, Key Kids, ECFE, Project Compass and adult enrichment used the facilities for a total of 15,385 hours.

What does the term “acquisition” refer to on the November 6th Bond Referendum ballot?

The ballot reads:

“Shall the school board of Independent School District  No.861(Winona Area Public Schools) be authorized to issue its general obligation school building bonds in an amount not to exceed $9,420,000 to provide funds for the acquisition and betterment of school sites and facilities, including the construction, remodeling, upgrading and equipping of life safety improvements and fire and smoke detector systems at various school sites and facilities; the construction, installation, replacement and remodeling of ADA accessibility improvements at various school sites and facilities”...

Acquisition refers to purchasing the physical materials and/or equipment to complete the safety and security, accessibility and asset preservation projects.

What projects will be completed with a successful bond referendum?

  • All buildings will have secure vestibules, visitor screening and increased technology related to security. This will include additional cameras, strobe lights and door locks.
  • Facilities will be accessible for students, visitors and staff with disabilities. Wheelchairs will be able to come through main entrances.
  • Critical maintenance projects for the aging buildings, including replacement of electrical services, fire alarm systems, piping replacement, roofing, and parking lots.

When will the projects be completed?

Final construction timelines have not been set. It is anticipated that the work will happen during the summers of 2019 and 2020.

Will students need to be housed elsewhere while projects get completed?

Given the size and scope of the projects, students would not need to be relocated from their school building. The majority of the work will be completed during summer breaks. Any work that would be completed during the school year would be carefully coordinated to ensure the safety of students and not disrupt learning.

How does the Ag Land Tax Credit affect the tax impact from this referendum?

The School Building Bond Agricultural Credit bill provides a 40% reduction in tax impact for school building bonds for agricultural land. Homestead examples exclude the house, garage and one acre, which has the same tax impact as a residential homestead. More information about tax impact can be found on the District’s referendum website, including a tax impact calculator where you can find the exact impact by searching for your property.

What is the district plan after Phase I?

The Community Task Force on Facilities identified significant needs for buildings beyond the current proposal. A community planning process for those long-range needs would likely take place in the next two years 2019-2020. We plan to continue dialogue with the community to determine how to best meet these long-term facility’s needs and develop a phase II. 

How come the school district hasn’t maintained their facilities properly over time?

State support for public schools is primarily focused on operational costs. Personnel costs, energy use, and curriculum are all supported from state funding. Capital costs for technology and facilities can sometimes be supported by state funding, but each dollar spent from the state funding takes that dollar away from direct instruction. Therefore, the state system of school finance requires that school districts periodically ask local taxpayers to support facilities projects. Winona Area Public Schools has not received this kind of voter support through a bond referendum since the construction of the new Middle School 20 years ago.

What happens if the bond referendum is not passed?

If the referendum is not successful, our buildings and sites will continue to have significant needs. While some short-term measures have been taken to make schools accessible and secure, there is much work yet to be done. If the referendum does not pass, funds to address the critical needs identified will need to come out operating funds. This impacts staffing and classroom materials. Our needs will not go away. The District would need to study the problem further and ask for community support in the near future.

How are safety and security being addressed?

It is essential to have adequate school security and building entrances that are ADA accessible. The referendum projects will create secure entrances at Jefferson and Washington-Kosciusko Elementary Schools as well as the early childhood entrance at Goodview Elementary school. The bond will support additional security technology at all schools including cameras, strobe lights to be used during a lockdown in areas that might be noisy such as gyms or cafeterias.

Where do I vote? Is there early voting available?

Polls will be open from 7am to 8 pm on November 6, 2018. To find your polling place visit:

You can also vote via an absentee ballot. Absentee voting begins September 21, 2018 - November 2, 2018 from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm at the Winona County Building,177 Main

Absentee ballots be requested online, in person or by mail. For more information go to:

Where can I find information about tax impact?

Click on Ehlers Tax Estimator on the district website to find more information about tax impact and to use the tax impact calculator. Enter your address or property ID number to find precise information about your property.

How was community input incorporated in the plan?

We have been studying the District’s facilities for years, which has included significant community involvement and input.

  • 2015 Community Survey
  • Fall 2016 Community Task Force on Facilities established
  • Winter 2018 Community Survey
  • Spring 2018 Community Task Force reconvened
  • Numerous Community Listening Sessions

How is the Minnesota Department of Education involved in the process?

The School District submitted all required documentation for the proposed improvements to  Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) in the form of a “Review & Comment” submittal.  The MDE will review all submitted information to ensure that the project is both fiscally sound and educationally appropriate, which is required before a public vote can take place. The Commissioner’s approval will be published in the local paper prior to the referendum vote for confirmation by District residents. The Review and Comment was discussed by the board and open for comment at the October 4, 2018 school board meeting. Review and Comment

When can the public learn more and ask questions about the referendum?

If you have a group that would like to meet outside these meetings, please contact Superintendent Richard Dahman at 507-494-0861 or to schedule an informational presentation.

How will W-K Elementary School Safety Grant affect the bond referendum?

The district applied for grants at all six school buildings and Washington-Kosciusko Elementary was awarded $316,447 for school safety. Although the ballot language cannot be changed and will state "in an amount not to exceed $9,420,000", the bond referendum will be reduced to $9,105,000 to reflect this award. This will be a direct savings to WAPS taxpayers.


The Referendum Projects are underway!
Based on a public bidding process, the school board awarded the low bid contracts to the following contractors:
  • Fowler and Hammer Construction (La Crosse, WI)
  • Pember Companies (Menomonie, WI)
  • Custom Communications Inc. (Rochester, MN)
  • Schwickert’s Roofing (Savage, MN)

Summer 2019 projects

Goodview Elementary - Closed for the summer 2019


  • Maintenance improvements, including exterior door replacement, ADA toilet upgrades, added lighting controls and an RTU replacement
  • Security improvements including new security cameras and door contacts
  • Repaving of the hard surface play area and parking lot
  • Fire alarm system replacement
  • Roof replacement

Jefferson Elementary - Closed for the summer 2019

  • Maintenance improvements including exterior door replacement and ADA toilet upgrade
  • Security improvements including new secure entrance vestibule, ADA ramp, new security cameras and door contacts
  • Repaving of the hard surface play area 
  • Fire alarm system replacement

Washington-Kosciusko Elementary

  • Maintenance improvements including exterior door replacement and ADA toilet upgrade
  • Security improvements including new secure entrance vestibule and office layout, new security cameras and door contacts

Winona Middle School

  • Security improvements including new security cameras and door contacts
  • Flooring replacement in hallways and stairwells

Winona Senior High School - Closed for most of the summer 2019

  • Maintenance improvements including exterior door replacement, ADA toilet upgrade, locker replacement and adding a grease interceptor in the kitchen.
  • Security improvements including new security cameras and door contacts
  • Reconstruction of the parking lot
  • Fire alarm system replacement

Winona Area Learning Center

  • Security improvements including new security cameras and door contacts

Tentative summer 2020 projects

Jefferson Elementary - Closed for most of the summer 2020

  • Domestic piping replacement and abatement
  • Electrical systems

Washington-Kosciusko Elementary - Closed for most of the summer 2020

  • Fire alarm replacement
  • Resealing of hard surface areas and re-stripe
  • Domestic piping replacement and abatement

Winona Middle School - Closed for most of the summer 2020

  • Resealing of hard surface parking/play areas and re-stripe
  • Fire alarm replacement
  • Replace pool unit

*This is a tentative timeline, all projects are subject to change. Programming information, including the location of all summer programs, will be provided to staff and families closer to program start date. Updates on the referendum projects will be listed online at