Shakopee Schools Referendum – March 11, 2014


photoWhat: $89 million referendum to: build second high school, security upgrades, outdoor facility upgrades

When: TODAY!!! March 11, 2014 from 7 am to 8 pm

Where: Shakopee High School (Jackson Township residents vote in Jackson Hall)

Who: Any eligible voter living within the Shakopee School District (Shakopee, Savage, Prior Lake, Jackson, Sand Creek and Louisville Townships)

Registration: Yes, you CAN register to vote today at your polling place.

Learn more: Shakopee Referendum Central

Watch our Q&A with Shakopee school board members Matt McKeand and Scott Swanson that was recorded Feb 20, 2014. Thank you for your participation!!

If you have further questions for the school board members, check out Shakopee Referendum Central or contact the school board members here.

I, as Mayor, wholeheartedly support this referendum for the future of Shakopee.

Referendum in the news:


47 Responses to Shakopee Schools Referendum – March 11, 2014

  1. Jay Styba January 27, 2014 at 9:48 am #

    Our school board believes the concept of a “mega high school” is not the best option for our students.

    This is the sticking point for me on this entire issue. Why are we not hearing about an alternative option? I do not believe building a second, separate high school less than one mile away needs to be the only solution to address our capacity problem.

    • bradtabke January 27, 2014 at 10:23 am #

      Hi Jay – you are absolutely correct. This is a major sticking point for the issue. Here are my thoughts:

      The current high school was built to expand to 2200 capacity. We could expand now and buy a couple of years more in this building. However, with only the students we know are here in the Shakopee school district today, that expanded building (and the junior highs) would be maxed out in 6 years and we wouldn’t be able to transition to grades 9-12 in the building.

      It makes more sense to me to build the second school – that we know we will need – now and provide better educational opportunities for our kids than to wait 5 years or so and build it at higher costs.

      More than likely, we will need to expand both schools and there is a real possibility we will need a 3rd high school in 10 years even with those expansions.

      The task force that has studied this over the past decade did a great job of looking at the options. Here is the Executive Summary that lays out the case. Contact a school board member for more details on the options. I know they have looked at them and trust they are making the right decision.


      • Kevin M February 28, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

        Hi Mayor Tabke,

        The numbers and figures provided by the School District is where my frustration lies especially with the enrollment “projections” which are educated guesses. With regards to the high school building, straight from the architect, the high school could be expanded to 2,400 students and the school site is likely able to support even more.

        What the district forgets to inform the public is in fact less space is needed for students than when we were in school. Education today and tomorrow is about technology and digital. The large spaces for libraries/media centers aren’t needed anymore as space for books aren’t needed. Everything is now on a computer or tablet. In fact, less and less locker spaces are needed too.

        Interestingly, one of the District’s biggest reasons to vote yes on the referendum is to avoid having one “mega” high school, yet Wayzata Public Schools whose high school is much larger than Shakopee’s current or for what will ever be needed, passed its referendum recently and will be adding onto their mega high school even more, not building two high schools! Let’s not make the same mistakes that Lakeville did!

        I support your efforts and hard work for our community, however, I like others I’ve talked to will be voting NO on March 11th.

  2. Patrick Simmons January 27, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    I would also like to hear other options. I’m sure that the school board has discussed them but I would like to have the other options published with reasons for their decision. I do not like the idea of having two high schools because of concerns of creating the “haves” and the “have nots” through open enrollment.

    Though I have not done the research that I’m sure our school board has done, I would like to see the option of a Freshman, Sophomore center and a Junior, Senior center explored

  3. bradtabke January 27, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    Thank you, Pat!! As I understand, open enrollment would be locked down for the first few years to eliminate the immediate haves/have nots issue. 3 Elementary schools would feed into one junior high and then to one high school. The school board has studied and toured multiple models where this has worked – watch the video above and I think it explains it.

    They also explored 9/10 & 11/12 centers like they have in White Bear Lake. It was decided against it for educational reasons.

    • Patrick Simmons January 27, 2014 at 11:27 am #

      I saw that they had looked at the 9/10 and 11/12 models on the first slide but there was no mention of the positives or the negatives. It is simply not mentioned. More information would be helpful in making an educated decision. There is no doubt in my mind that we need a second facility, there is question as to how this should be structured and the only way to have input is with this vote.

  4. Jay Styba January 27, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    Brad – First off let me say that I am a big supporter of you and I believe that you are leading Shakopee in the right direction. Let me also say that my wife met with Dr. Rod Thompson this afternoon and while she was very impressed with what he had to say, her opinion against a two high school solution was not changed.

    Why are we not voting on a solution that includes an expansion of the current high school, while keeping it 10-12 instead of 9-12 and further expanding our middle and elementary schools? Wasn’t this the original plan when this high school was built? I think this exact point – is why so many people are opposed to this referendum.

    • bradtabke January 27, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

      Thank you, Jay! We’re never – and shouldn’t – going to agree on everything 100%. This, however, is an item I hope we can agree on in the end. I feel it is critical this referendum pass. If not, when we hit our next phase of controlled growth, we are going to have nothing but major problems with overcrowded schools and educational issues.

      To your second point, I always understood we were working toward a 9-12 high school. In the end, it doesn’t matter exactly how we get there, but will need at least two expanded high schools. I’d like to see us do it in the most cost-effective manner.

      • Jay Styba January 27, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

        You are right Brad, we probably won’t agree on everything – and like you, I don’t think that is a bad thing.

        I think we agreed on the 2nd sheet of ice and expanded community center and look where that got us. :-)

  5. Al February 1, 2014 at 12:10 am #

    Is there a way to build the second high school in a different place. Let’s say old carriage road area. This way it will Be ranked higher. This way it’s ratings will not be sucked in with old shakopee and they an keep their high school and their old ways. People would actually go to public school vs. sacs or aspen academy.

    • bradtabke February 9, 2014 at 11:01 pm #

      Al – not exactly sure what you mean here. The part I do know is – No, there is nowhere with enough acreage to build the school on the east end of town. In my opinion, that would be ideal but it isn’t possible.

    • Dawn February 20, 2014 at 8:06 pm #

      See this is what people are saying. If you split the community with 2 different high schools we will end up like Bloomington. With one end of Shakopee the house prices go up and the other end the house values go down. Not sure where Al lives! But I have lived here for 25 years and have kids in Jr. high. I don’t want 2 schools or an old farm way of life. I want kids of the same grade to stay together and form bonds like I had growing up. Not split apart every couple years because new schools are built and new boundaries. I live in an older area but I am assuming I live close enough to you that we would be in same boundary, and guess what we are old Shakopee. Sounds like segregated thinking! Also, from what I see on the school ratings Red Oak is not the highest ranking. Just saying

  6. David Schultz February 4, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    I was able to attend an informal information session with the Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, and a School Board Member. At this session it was made clear that the proposed 2nd high school would be a “carbon copy” of the existing high school. I put that comment in quotes as the comment was made by all representatives of the school district. This comment was made AFTER they pumped up the proposal by saying that the referendum would provide many more programs for children at the High School level. They would not comment on how a carbon copy would provide new programs.

    The Assistant Superintendent, while discussing options that had been looked at, went so far as to say that the Mega High School provides an inferior educational experience…not something I agree with as a Mega High School graduate.

    I am all for more money for schools, but I have a huge problem with this referendum. The school district in wanting to move forward with a second high school option that is strongly or somewhat opposed by half of the City tax payers has held our students safety hostage. The one fact that the district is not very interested in bringing front and center is that 8 million of the 89 million is needed TODAY for EXISTING building capital repairs and for security needs at various school buildings in the district. Why is the district holding the safety and security of my children over my head? Why not 2 referendums to allow for a separation of immediate need vs. urgent want.

    I ask that anyone reading this comment, including you Mr. Tabke, to consider that 81 million dollars can provide a “carbon copy” of the existing problem based on what has been proposed. I would bet that 81 million dollars could provide for an entire new building/wing on the east side of the existing site where the current parking lot is that would provide for EXPANDED opportunities in all departments while providing adequate space all students beyond the 8-10 years that the “new” high school would provide for.

    We need to face facts…the second high school proposal does not fix the problem. The proposal, if passed, only delays the need to come up with a real solution…not a 7-10 year bandaid.

    Thank you – David Schultz

    • bradtabke February 9, 2014 at 11:06 pm #

      1 – Thank you, David! I can’t disagree with you regarding the $8 million of the $89 million referendum. Unfortunately, that is the way that Minnesota has the system set up and in my opinion, it is much more likely that the $89 will pass than both an $8 and an $81. That is the political system set up by the state – it is ridiculous that security needs must go to referendum.

      2 – I see the existing building and a ‘carbon copy’ as more of a positive than you do. Shakopee intentionally built a 1600 capacity school with plan for another 1600 capacity school to keep a smaller building with more personalized education opportunities. Right or wrong, it is what we’ve got. Changing to a single, 4,000 student school would cost as much or more than a whole new school. It isn’t a bandaid or a full solution, but it is part of a solution where we do not yet know the full question.

      • David Schultz February 17, 2014 at 11:49 am #

        What say you to the fact that Dr. Thompson has been frequently making the claim that if the referendum passes, the City will have no choice but to build a second sheet of ice at the community center for hockey programs. I have seen nothing from the City of Shakopee in response to this, and I would like you hear what the official position of the City is with regard to this.

        I don’t think any sheet of ice should be part of the discussion at all, but Dr. Thompson has made it so.

  7. Michael Wilkie February 5, 2014 at 8:47 am #

    I’m more interested in the alternative options for funding ANY of our projects in moving forward. Has the city or task force looked into selling Municipal Bonds to generate some revenue? I would think that the growing City of Shakopee would be a very attractive investment for people wanting a safe return through a municipal bond that wouldn’t mature for 10, 15 or 20 years. This would serve a couple of purposes. First, it would generate even further interest in Shakopee outside of our own community. Second, it would alleviate the tax burden on a city that has seen a couple of referendums now in recent years.

    In the big picture of national, state, and local politics the citizen/taxpayer is having more income taken away from them. This affects the ability to invest for the future, spend for today’s immediate household needs and creates ongoing animosity for the governments that continue to find ways to strip down household income and distribute the wealth.

    No doubt we have a legitimate problem that really needs attention here. I would like to know what other options were identified for funding the current high school dilemma.

    • bradtabke February 9, 2014 at 11:09 pm #

      Thanks, Mike! Unfortunately the state COMPLETELY ties our hands in out-of-the-box concepts like this. Most all school bonds or city recreation bonds can only be sold at the majority vote of the residents. I couldn’t agree with you more, but this is the way MN is set up.

      The only funding options for capital improvements in school districts is selling bonds approved by referendum.

  8. Dawn February 20, 2014 at 7:55 pm #

    everyone I know wants to do high school divided in grades so we do not split the community again. Split the high school with one housing 9-10 graders and one with 11 and 12 graders. We do not want to see our community end up like Bloomington or even worse Lakeville. The 6th grade center was so great, all the kids could be together. Then they were split again into separate Junior Highs which is not what people wanted from what I hear from the majority. We like the sense of a united community. Sports teams will suffer as well. There was also the new high school that we were told could be added on to when we voted last time. Why not do what was promised in the last vote. I also understand that if we build a new high school with this planned referendum that we will out grow that in a couple years and need another school. Build onto what we have and get a proper plan for the future.

  9. Jackson Allen February 20, 2014 at 8:24 pm #

    Weather you want to believe it or not, Shakopee is more like Bloomington than lakeville. One part of Shakopee will turn to an absolute dump with the building of two high schools , while one will prosper.

    • bradtabke February 20, 2014 at 9:38 pm #

      Why do you say that, Jackson?

  10. Dawn February 20, 2014 at 8:26 pm #

    I have about a dozen people here that are voting NO. I did not like the answer to my question about splitting the schools with 9-10 and 11-12. They compared White Bear Lake. I gave examples of Bloomington which people hate and Lakeville which has many complaints for breaking up their community. Also the Mayor did not bring up property values (i.e. East/west Bloomington and what is happening in Lakeville). As a peoperty investor I know a lot about this.

    • bradtabke February 20, 2014 at 9:45 pm #

      Dawn, you don’t have to like the answer. ;) What specifically is your question/concern?

      Everyone I talk with – and it has been a lot – says the students are performing really well. It is the adults that feel everything is divided. Like I said, it is up to use – the adults – if we divide the community or not.

      I didn’t bring up property values – tell me how they would play into this since it is all one district and the boundaries will be drawn for equity.

    • bradtabke February 20, 2014 at 9:48 pm #

      Also, Dawn. If having the 9/10 & 11/12 schools is your biggest hangup, why would you vote no? We would still need two school.

    • Matt McKeand February 21, 2014 at 10:27 am #

      I would be happy to meet/speak with you further about why the stacked model was not selected- as well as the additional steps that we are committed to taking to avoid having a “haves” and “have nots” that exists in Bloomington. Please email me and let me know when would be a convenient time for you to speak.

      Matt McKeand

  11. Dawn February 20, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

    OOPs supposed to say property. :-)

  12. Kp February 20, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

    There has been discussion since last referendum about a possible 2nd h.s.

  13. Lynn February 27, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

    I didn’t know when I bought a house in Shakopee that the elected officials believe money grows on trees. I want a money tree in my yard before I vote to raise my property taxes YET AGAIN. Seems like the choice has been made then the citizens get harassed into submission and if we don’t vote yes then we must “hate the children.” My message to our officials is this… How about you try to live within your means like the rest of us have to? I’m now sad to say I live in Shakopee with the spend, spend, spend and just tax, tax, tax mentality that’s coming from the mayors office.

    • bradtabke February 27, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

      Lynn, not sure what you mean. Property taxes have gone down (quite a bit for many) each of the last 2 years for the vast majority of Shakopee residents. Why would that make you sad?

      • Lynn February 27, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

        They’ve gone DOWN? Not in my neighborhood or from anyone else in Shakopee that I’ve met or spoke with that are homeowners. Maybe in old Shakopee but in the new side our taxes have been elevated significantly over the last 2 years. Makes me sad to admit I live there now because our money is spent before we even know it. All we ask is before taxes are raised that the people be consulted and actually listened to. Don’t just listen to the sides that you want to listen to because they agree with you. Take constructive criticism. I work with a government agency that deals with high school kids all throughout the state. Lakeville North and Lakeville South are two different worlds. I’ve walked their halls and know their students. A divided high school will do the same. In response to someone else’s post pertaining to one side turning into a dump and the other not and you asked why…. it’s simple. One side of Shakopee is significantly nicer than the other. New Shakopee pays the dues of old Shakopee in the form of our property values and taxes. Look at the demographics of both and you’ll see what I mean. It’s just like in Plymouth where one side goes to the Robbinsdale school district and the other Wayzata. Your house may be in Plymouth but your property value is also based on which one of those two school districts you reside in. Don’t do that to the citizens who elected you. Don’t just run with this idea (a bid for the Vikings without everyone knowing about it sound familiar?) without adhering to the wishes of your constituents…. and I’m not just talking about soccer moms and dads who, of course, are for the referendum.

      • Dawn February 27, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

        I don’t know anyone that had their property tax go down. Mine went up yet again this year.

  14. SAB February 27, 2014 at 11:01 pm #

    My property taxes in “New” old Shakopee (an average home, built in 2000) for the last several years, as taken directly from Scott Co. tax records. I would say that for the vast majority of Shakopee (I am a Realtor by trade), this is an accurate reflection.

    2013 $2,310.00
    2012 $2,436.00
    2011 $2,432.00
    2010 $2,438.00
    2009 $2,708.00

    As a community, we have a duty to educate the children in this school district, we are OUT of space….I would ask those who are not willing to pay more in taxes for our schools…what alternative do we have?

    • Dawn February 28, 2014 at 8:13 am #

      It really has nothing to do with the money. It has to do with the plan. The task force needs to look at Wayzata’s plan. It looks like a much better solution. We do not want a divided city like Bloomington, Lakeville, etc… We are also not talking about a mega school, most want to keep kids together by grade. The 6th grade center was great. I think the task force needs more time to come up with a better plan. Also, we were told last time we voted on this High School that we would build on and had a plan for that. The fact that you continue to say that we are not supporting our kids is not true. We are trying to what is best for our kids and this plan they are proposing is not good for the kids or the community. We are pro kids, education and community. A small school will give less opportunity to our kids. Shakopee is lacking in so much, marching band, sports, chess club, etc… A bigger school gives more advantages to the kids and if you split by grade the schools will not be mega schools. If you had 2 schools and split by grade it would be same capacity as splitting the community and dividing us. Also, where are the proposed borders going to be. Show us that before we divide. Because like Bloomington, Lakeville, etc… the home values and sellability will be affected. When is the open house rescheduled for? Had to type quick before work so sorry if there are errors.

      • bradtabke February 28, 2014 at 9:01 am #

        Info on split 9/10 11/12 high schools from the district:

        28. Why two separate 9-12 high schools? Why not a 9-10 school and an 11-12 school?

        The Facilities Task Force members explored both the “stacked” option (9/10 & 11/12) and the two high school (9-12) option. A significant focus was placed on the basic question: What’s best for kids? By creating two 9-12 high schools, students have the opportunity to establish and maintain long-term relationships with staff in addition to their classmates. Progress of struggling students can be more closely monitored. Gifted and talented students would have expanded accelerated curriculum options. In addition, opportunities for participation in extracurricular activities and athletics would be greater with the 9-12 model. Students who want to play, perform, or participate would likely experience less competition for those opportunities. A two-year model makes it very difficult to establish and maintain a supportive learning environment and positive school culture – the students are either “new to the school” or “on their way out”. Parent involvement diminishes in a two-year model, as well.

      • Shakopee Public Schools February 28, 2014 at 9:28 am #

        The only public forum left before the March 11th vote is our Soup with the Supe event. It is March 6th at 11:30 a.m. at Shakopee High School. If you can’t make it, we always invite questions from the public on our website Referendum Central. Our school board members are also great resources of information. Thank you! Please remember to vote on March 11th.

    • Lynn February 28, 2014 at 9:41 am #

      SAB, please share your secrets of the trade. As this is my record of property taxes over the last couple of years.
      2011 – 1708
      2012 – 1804
      2013 – 2074
      and this year is listed at over 2200. I think I found where your taxes went down… seems that I picked up the taxes you lost. Since everyone I know doesn’t know the tricks of the trade as a realtor that you do, please share your wealth of knowledge and educate us on how to make our taxes go down whilst all the extra taxing is going on. I know we have to build on, that’s not the point. The point is fiscal responsibility. Since you’re in the realty business, even you have to understand what that means. We’re just asking that the planning board look at ALL options, see ALL sides and then make an EDUCATED choice… not just the choice they’ve made from the beginning. I don’t want to be informed after the fact, which has been what’s been happening. Since it seems as if we’re going to have a north/south or east/west option, I want to see where the dividing line is BEFORE it goes into place. If I’m paying the taxes for it, I want to see it before it starts. That way I can decide if I’m going to keep you in business by putting my house on the market so the new homebuyer doesn’t know they’re buying in a subpar side vice the better side. And if I’m in the better side, then I will wait and sell after. Just like the Robbinsdale and Wayzata districts in Plymouth. Pull the numbers for that and see just how that fares…

  15. Chris February 27, 2014 at 11:20 pm #

    I’m not against building a new school. However, I do have to agree with previous concerns shared pertaining to a divided school. Lakeville is not the model we should follow. Put 9th and 10th in one then 1th and 12th in another. This way it doesn’t matter if you’re on the “new” our “old” side but your kids are educated the same guaranteed. We can argue they’ll be treated the same until we’re blue in the face but the division will be there nonetheless. Avoid it altogether by splitting it that way. Adding onto the existing high school won’t work either. Just build another school but not divide it into what will ultimately be one side versus another. The mayor and other counsel members and the tax paying citizens who elected them have to at least see how that’s a good choice.

    • bradtabke February 27, 2014 at 11:30 pm #

      Chris – I am not by any means saying it isn’t a concern. Making sure the community is not divided with two high schools will take very careful thought and planning. 9/10 and 11/12 looked like a great option but seems to not work in practice. Watch my online chat with school board members. We addressed just that topic.

  16. Chris February 27, 2014 at 11:35 pm #

    I can only hope that I live on the good side of the school district in the end then for when either my kids go into high school or I sell my house. Lakeville is not a model to follow. Too bad you can’t see that. I wish you all the best in your journey that’s higher office.

  17. SAB February 28, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    If I were a homeowner who’s taxes haven’t decreased like mine, I guess I’d be looking at the bright side, that it probably means your home either didn’t lose a ton of value (with the recession) or is increasing in value. Last time I heard, that was a good thing!

    I don’t understand why people think the task force DIDN’T look at all options. The full facilities task force report (187 pages) is available at the district office, if anyone wants to read it!

    Furthermore, have you crunched the numbers for the different configurations of schools? Wayzata’s referendum earmarks $62 million for a 700 student addition to their high school. We CAN do that – and it will hold the high school for a few years, but considering that the school enrollment is growing by 200 MORE students each year than we lose (this years graduation class is estimated around 450, the grades 3-5 are around 650 each), our kids quickly fill up a 700 student addition, without moving 9th grade to the high school. And if we don’t move 9th grade up, then we need another building (of some kind) to relieve the overcrowding in the elementary and Jr. High buildings, to the tune of around $50 million. So, now we are paying $110 million for a different option…what was that you said about taxes being ridiculous?

    And to those who say it has nothing to do with taxes…it sure does! Like you said, the school board is responsible for answering to ALL citizens, not just those who oppose the current plan. They have to weigh ALL of the variables.

    Finally, there are MANY examples of districts that have more than one high school serving a city – Apple Valley/East View, Woodbury/East Ridge. I have spoken to at least a dozen people who live or teach in Lakeville, and none of them described the “tearing apart” that I keep hearing mentioned. If anything, they say the parents had a harder time than the students. And now, a few years down the road the dust has settled, and so the decision has been a good move for the district.

    • Lynn February 28, 2014 at 11:50 am #

      If only my home value HAD gone up. If that was the case, I wouldn’t be upset in the least bit.

      • SAB February 28, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

        I am sorry to hear that Lynn. I guess I can understand how you feel then! I looked at the tax records of 4 family members of mine, and two recent clients, who all live in different types of homes and neighborhoods in Shakopee, and their history (of taxes) mirrors mine. The (unfortunate?) fact remains, we have a duty the children in the school district. If you explore all of the options the board has, this plan gives us the most comprehensive plan, for the best price, and within the goal of providing children in this district equal opportunities for participation and education, while following educational “best practices.”

  18. Jon March 6, 2014 at 9:28 pm #

    What is the requirement for the referendum to pass? Does a non-vote count as a no?

    • bradtabke March 6, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

      The referendum vote is the only item on the ballot. 50% + 1 of votes cast is the winner.

  19. Russ March 12, 2014 at 10:24 pm #

    I’ve lived here since 1998 and have seen the exponential growth. To deny we need more space to invest in our future would deny the obvious. I’m very disappointed in the 6:1 ratio. My question to the mayor is what are you going to do to get a better voter turnout and to ” convince” the citizens of the needed. To people who are stating their property has gone up, I call BS. There what’s a real estate bubble that popped in 2008. Unless you sided your house in gold, you are denying what happen to rest of us.

    • Dawn March 13, 2014 at 8:33 am #

      Nobody is denying we need more space for the kids. We all just want a better plan that looks further into the future. The plan the task force put forth did not provide for the future growth. We would grow out of the planned second High School in a few years. We had just built a High School a few years ago and were told we would build on to that building. We do not want to make the same mistake again. 89 million to build something that will be inadequate in a few years is not a good option. We do not believe we should jump in so fast. Maybe a new task force could come up with new ideas. More fact based information would be nice. That is the only way I see the vote passing in the future. I do like the idea someone had of building on to the existing school and separating by grade. 9-10 grade in one building and the other for 11-12 grade. Maybe attached by skywalk or attached right to the building depending on cost.

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