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Final Cass Lake-Bena referendum meeting is Oct. 30

CASS LAKE—Cass Lake-Bena Schools staff have scheduled for late October a final community meeting about the school district's $37.8 million bonding referendum.

If voters approve the measure next month, the district would borrow that money to build a brand-new elementary building for grades 3-5, renovate its existing elementary building for pre-kindergarten through second grade, and make a series of upgrades, renovations, and repairs to several other district buildings. District leaders shopped a range of different facilities plans to area residents last spring and chose the $37.8 million option at a special board meeting last August.

The meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 30, at the White Earth Community Center, 217 Second Ave. NE, Cass Lake. A presentation about the referendum is scheduled for 6 p.m.

District staff and consultants held a similar meeting in September.

The plan

Here's the facilities plan the bonding referendum would pay for, if approved, according to the school district's website.

Build a new elementary school for grades 3-5

• 75,000-square-foot building on the middle school/high school campus

• Larger gym for community and potential wrestling use

Renovate existing elementary school into a PreK-grade 2 primary school

• Renovate first grade wing for PreK classrooms

• Upgrade kindergarten rooms in existing locations

• Repurpose existing grades 2-4 wings into classrooms

• Renovate existing space for improved and additional special education spaces

• Replace lockers and renovate locker bays

• Replace boiler heating plant

Upgrade and repair the Alternative Learning Center and District Resource Center

• Upgrade ALC science classroom

• Secure entry and relocation of ALC administration offices to first floor

• Demolish the 1954 section of the building and replace it with an addition that includes restrooms, gym storage, special education classrooms, and district offices.

• Upgrade fire protection systems

• Upgrade ALC and gym mechanical and electrical systems

• Repair high-priority exterior items

• Upgrade security cameras (interior and exterior)

• Make gym upgrades

High school repairs and improvements

• Secure entry and office renovation

• Replace gym bleachers

• Add ventilation to fitness center

• Make mechanical improvements — add ventilation to the fitness center, data closet cooling and water heater replacement

• Repair high-priority exterior items

• Upgrade security cameras

Middle school repairs and improvements

• Boiler plant capacity improvements

• Secure main entry upgrade

• Add dehumidification to cafeteria and gym

• Upgrade security camera and paging systems

• Repurpose areas to create flexible small group learning spaces and additional special education spaces

Voting information

And here's where and how to vote on the referendum, according to the school district website:

Hours for voting on Nov. 7 will be from noon to 8 p.m. Voters in Bena and Winnie Portage will vote at the Bena Community Center. All other voters of the district will vote at the Pike Bay Town Hall. Voters living in precincts that vote by mail in statewide elections will not receive a ballot by mail for this election. To verify where you vote, visit

For questions on polling locations and hours, voter registration, and absentee voting, contact Cass County Elections at (218) 547-7260.

Joe Bowen

Joe Bowen covers education (mostly K-12) and American Indian affairs for the Bemidji Pioneer.

He's from Minneapolis, earned a degree from the College of St. Benedict - St. John's University in 2009, and worked at the Perham Focus near Detroit Lakes and Sun Newspapers in suburban Minneapolis before heading to the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9798