• People will be able to visit from 4 to 5:45 p.m.; forum gets underway at 6 p.m. in CHS auditorium

The community forum scheduled for Thursday evening, Aug. 8 in the Crookston High School auditorium to ask questions and discuss the two ballot questions school district voters will consider on election day, Nov. 5, will be preceded by a public tour of the district’s current bus garage.

The open house-style tour will be from 4 to 5:45 p.m., Superintendent Jeremy Olson reports, and will lead up to the start of the forum at CHS at 6 p.m. From 4 to 5:45 p.m., people will be able to see the current bus garage for themselves. Staff will be on hand to answer any questions. The bus garage is located at 115 East 4th Avenue, near downtown and the former site of Crookston Central High School.

The district is looking to construct a new bus garage facility, which would be located behind Highland School. Its estimated price tag of $2.95 million is around $500,000 less than a bus garage proposal that went before district voters in the spring of 2017 and was soundly rejected. The current proposal was shaped by a Bus Garage Committee formed by Olson that featured among its members farmers, experts on large buildings and representatives of other businesses and industries who were able to contribute their knowledge. The committee met several times and toured several facilities before making its project recommendation to the school board earlier this summer.

Architects, committee members, Olson, school board members and other stakeholders will be on hand at Thursday’s forum to answer questions on the bus garage.

The forum will also be an opportunity to discuss the other question that will be on the Nov. 5 ballot, a requested 10-year extension of a voter-approved, 10-year operating levy that is scheduled to expire in 2022. If voters reject the ballot question, the district would be able to put the question back on the ballot in 2020 and, if necessary, 2021.

The operating levy ballot question is unique, in that its language will indicate to voters that, if they vote “yes,” will be approving an increase in the property taxes they pay to the school district. But, compared to the property taxes they’re paying in relation to the current operating levy, if they approve an extension of the levy their property taxes would actually decrease. That’s because the current operating levy has a revenue stream earmarked specifically for improvements and upgrades at the Crookston Community Pool. With the school district transferring ownership of the swimming pool to the City of Crookston earlier this summer, the portion of the operating levy targeted at the facility is dropping off.