Rushford-Peterson schools lose bid for state bonding money

Chuck Ehler
Chuck Ehler, superintendent of the Rushford-Peterson school district, stands outside the school building in Rushford, which was built in 1906. Ehler says there isn't sufficient enough property tax base in his district to afford a new school building, and he hopes lawmakers will approve state funding to help.
MPR Photo/Tom Weber

One of the many items not included in the $496 million bonding bill that passed this week at the state Capitol was funding for local school district projects. It was a unique request, as we reported in February, because state bonding bills traditionally do not fund local school projects.

Local districts have the ability to raise their own capital funds - with voter approval - but leaders of the Rushford-Peterson school district in southeastern Minnesota had made the argument that their tax base wasn't large enough, and voters would never approve the $29 million needed for a new building to replace the school in Rushford that was built in 1906.

Rushford-Peterson officials were seeking $20 million from the state, saying they were confident they could raise the remaining $9 million locally.

In the end, the project was not included in the bonding bill. Superintendent Chuck Ehler joins The Daily Circuit to discuss what's next for his district, and what he heard from lawmakers about whether the project ever has a chance for state funding.

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