Voters approve tech and security; Stadium does not pass
District 197 voters approve technology and security; Athletic stadium does not pass
Posted on 11/04/2014

On November 4, voters in West St Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan Area Schools (District 197) voted on three separate school funding requests:

- Question 1, passed 54% yes (9,650 votes) to 46% no (8,171 votes): Technology Levy increase to $1.2 million annually for 10 years to:
- Equip classrooms with technology for students so that skilled teachers can:
- Personalize learning – give teachers the ability to adjust the content, pace and approach to learning based on individual student needs.
- Incorporate relevant and current online educational resources into their lessons.
- Facilitate online testing and assessment, which can provide immediate feedback to teachers and students regarding progress and mastery of material.
- Prepare students for college and careers after graduation.
- Maintain and replace current technology systems, hardware and infrastructure (servers, phones, websites, devices, etc.)

Question 2, passed 57% yes (10,008 votes) to 43% no (7,417 votes): $3.2 million Building Bond for Secure School Entrances and Security Upgrades to:
- Update and improve security at all school buildings by adding cameras, remodeling the front entrances to all schools and upgrading features like lockdown buttons and more.

Question 3, failed 36% yes (6,258 votes) to 64% no (11,180 votes): $4.5 million Building Bond to:
- Construct a multi-use athletic stadium on the campus of Henry Sibley High School.

“We are very pleased that our residents have approved questions one and two. These funds will enable us to enhance our educational technology and improve security in all our buildings,” said Superintendent Nancy Allen-Mastro. “While we are disappointed that we will not be able to move ahead with the construction of a new athletic stadium, we are grateful to those residents who supported our students, staff and schools in this election.”

The technology levy will fund a technology plan that was based on years of study, input and analysis. These funds will maintain and enhance the district's current technology systems, and also be used to personalize learning and transition to 21st century instructional methods that will better prepare students for college and careers once they graduate. 

Next steps for technology include:
- Professional development and training for staff will begin as soon as possible and expand more broadly in the 2015-16 school year.
- iPads in the current 1:1 programs at Heritage E-STEM, Moreland Arts and Health Sciences and Pilot Knob STEM magnet schools will be replaced, as needed.
- Device implementation and technology upgrades will begin at schools throughout the District as early as fall 2015, depending on subject, grade and/or teacher readiness.

The bond funds approved in question two will address the District’s security needs. The District began a comprehensive review of the district’s security plan in January 2013 and found that, while district schools are prepared for many emergency situations, security improvements to incorporate best practices and expert recommendations were warranted. 

Next steps for security include:
- District administration will finalize the design process and set timelines for the construction of secure school entrances at each school.
- Implementation of the security upgrades (cameras, lock down buttons, door locks, etc.) and the construction of the secure school entrances will be planned for summer 2015.

Since question three, the bond for the multi-use athletic stadium, did not pass use of all sports facilities within the District will remain status quo. The high school varsity football and soccer teams will continue to use Matson Field in West St. Paul.

Looking ahead, the School Board and district administration will meet to study the election results and begin planning meetings. Updates on the technology plan and security upgrades will be provided through the district’s website, www.isd197.org.

Background on the referendum can be found at www.isd197.org/referendum.

Additional election results can be found on the Dakota Country website.