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Vote on Wayzata High School Expansion Expected Tuesday

Updated: 02/25/2014 6:20 PM
Created: 02/19/2014 5:34 PM KSTP.com
By: Brandi Powell

Voters who live in the Wayzata School District will decide on a bond request next week. The most controversial part of the referendum is the high school expansion.

The demand to attend Wayzata Public Schools is at an all-time high, and the number of students is expected to increase twice as fast in the next decade as it did in the last decade. The referendum vote on Tuesday, Feb. 25, is in part designed to address the population issue.

The first question on the ballot includes the hot button issue: an expanded Wayzata High School. A task force has decided it's best to add on to the current high school.

Jenny Short, a Wayzata Public Schools parent, said: "I feel that the option the district has proposed was the best of the available alternatives."

Those who want people to vote "yes" on the high school expansion question say adding a smaller, additional high school would get rid of a sense of community and create hierarchy. Short said, "We already have a 3,200 kid high school. Any second high school that would be built would be 800 to 1,000 kids, so you're dealing with a lot of inequity and disparity."

Task Force member and Wayzata Public Schools parent, Karen Arkesteyn, said: "I personally had a fear that if there were a smaller campus you may not have the opportunities at one school as you would at the other."

But those who want people to vote "no" say one larger high school is only going to increase competition and take away opportunity.

Kari Pendergast, a Wayzata Public Schools parent against an expanded high school said,"I am very worried that the elite of the elite of the elite are the only ones that are going to get into the AP classes, that they are the only ones that are going to perform in the drama team, play hockey."

Opponents say taxpayer dollars will be wasted, because they believe the district is only going to come back to ask for even more money within the decade.

Karinn Schultz a Wayzata Public Schools parent against an expanded high school said, "We will be over capacity, the referendum does not support the 4,100." It supports 3,900 students.

Wayzata Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Chace Anderson said, "The reason that the School Board went that route was because it allowed us to reduce the total cost of the bond by about $5 million dollars. And we thought that was a responsible decision given those numbers may not materialize to that highest level that might be anticipated."

Those against the bond say they want to vote for what's best, not leave it up to a task force. Schultz said, "We weren't given the option to vote on any of this."

But Anderson said the state requires school boards to choose what's presented in a vote. A, B and C options are not allowed on a referendum ballot.

Important to note, if you vote "yes" on Question Number 1, you're voting to expand Wayzata High School, as well as add an extra elementary school and increase district-wide infrastructure.

Polls are open until 8 p.m. To find your polling place, visit pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us.


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