'Very excited about the future': Round Lake-Brewster schools pass $30.48M referendum

The exterior of a school bulding.
A contrast in styles can be seen of the two gyms at Round Lake-Brewster school from the outside. The gymnasium on the left was built in 1938 and the one on the right was built in 2020.
Jackson Forderer for MPR News

In a 219-181 vote, Round Lake-Brewster voters approved a $30.48 million bond referendum on Tuesday.

This was the rural district’s second attempt at passing the referendum. Voters rejected a similar referendum in August by only seven votes. Since it passed, the referendum adds $384 annually to the property taxes on a $150,000 house.

A man stands in a school gymnasium.
Ray Hassing, superintendent for Round Lake-Brewster school, stands in the gymnasium on Friday, which was built in 1938. The school is holding a referendum for repairs needed at the school.
Jackson Forderer for MPR News

“We are thankful to have the support of our community, and we look forward to the addition of the new building,” Superintendent Ray Hassing said in an email statement. “We will begin the planning and bid process for the building of the building. We are very excited about the future.”

Funds will pay for the demolition of the 1914 building, another built in 1938 and a portion of a third built in 1962. It also finances a new 72,000 square-foot addition in three phases to maintain school operations throughout.

A crack in a plaster wall
After a crack formed on the outer plaster of a wall at Round Lake-Brewster school, a section of the plaster was removed to see if a crack had formed in the masonry underneath. The first building of the school was built in 1914 and needs repairs in certain areas.
Jackson Forderer for MPR News

In 2021, officials found cracks in the basement’s foundation walls and northeast stairwell running up the second and third floors. There’s more cracking on the third floor walls. Masonry and clay tiles are deteriorating.

Shoring supports the walls on all three levels of the building. It’s safe for students and staff, but the referendum will be able to help with a permanent solution. 

The district projects a doubling in student enrollment within the next couple years. During a time when small rural districts experienced declining student enrollment, Round Lake-Brewster is trying to prepare spaces for future students.

It’ll be a more than a year before students and staff can be moved into the new building addition.