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Benson Public Schools is equipping students in new ways to ensure they are ready for the next step and their future careers. In the past three years alone, Benson students earned over 2,000 college credits for free while still in high school. That has saved local families nearly $750,000 in just three years.

This enables students to stay challenged and engaged in learning throughout their high school experience. They get a jumpstart on college from the comforts of home and enter college ready to explore career fields.

Through partnerships with local employers, Benson High School students also have access to a rising number of internships where they can apply what they're learning in the classroom and discover potential career paths, including those that allow them to stay here in Benson. Last year, Benson High doubled the number of internships and hours spent at internships.

"We want our students to see how what they're learning makes a difference and develop passions for their future careers," Superintendent Dennis Laumeyer said. "Our Benson students continue to be eager for new opportunities. They want to work as teams, solve problems and produce something meaningful."

Students have learned everything from welding and using specialized industry software and plasma cutter to designing websites, repairing engines and building furniture. 

A facility plan, developed by a 45-member Community Task Force, includes adding collaborative learning environments at Benson High School designed especially for students, grades 6-12, to work together in small groups to apply their learning and solve problems in a way that capitalizes on one another's skills and resources. The plan will go before voters on Aug. 14.








Posted by dzimmerman  On Aug 08, 2018 at 7:46 AM
  

In case you missed it, here's a look at coverage of the 2018 bond referendum in the local media. Click on the headlines to view the articles.

$26 Million Referendum in Benson School District
August 1, 2018 - West Central Tribune

"With low interest rates and the new state tax credit that will reduce the financial burden for agricultural land affected by school capital bonding, Laumeyer said the timing could be right to gain approval."


Remember Who the School Building is About
July 17, 2018 - Swift County Monitor Record (Editorial)

"The plan before voters was developed by fellow citizens who studied in-depth the needs of our students, community, and businesses. They looked hard at the costs and options. The plan before us is the best set of proposals for meeting the needs of our children and community. To delay action further would not only be an abandonment of our responsibility to those children but also to our business community."

Description of Proposed School Construction Project
July 17, 2018 - Swift County Monitor Record

"Benson Public Schools, lSD #777, is proposing a bond referendum on August 14,  2018, that would authorize $26.3 million in bonding authority to finance facility improvements at the elementary and middle/high school attendance centers." 


Many Show Up to Hear School Building Proposal
June 29, 2018 - Swift County Monitor Record

"More than 70 people attended the first meeting sponsored by Benson Public Schools to inform the public about the purpose of the proposed $26.3 million building levy referendum to be voted on Aug. 14."


Building a Better Future for Our Children
June 28, 2018 - Swift County Monitor Record

"We have no children or grandchildren in the Benson schools. But that is not what we base our decision on to wholeheartedly support this referendum. We back this referendum because it is our turn to support the future of the community’s children. It is our turn to support the needs of the businesses of the community. It is our turn to support the needs of our faculty to have modern, quality facilities in which to teach our children."

Benson School Levy Should Be Our Focus
April 18, 2018 - Swift County Monitor Record

"Benson Public Schools is studying options for addressing building maintenance needs as well as essential facility upgrades that could cost between $20 and $29 million. It has brought three citizen groups together to give it input on the most critical building needs."


School Board Pleased with Citizen Input on Buildings
Feb. 9, 2018 - Swift County Monitor Record

"All the (community) groups agreed that it is imperative that the district’s buildings be very attractive and “vibrant.” For people to notice change there has to be a change they can drive up to and see."

School Board Seeks Citizen Input on Referendum
January 12, 2018 - Swift County Monitor Record

"The Benson school board is seeking volunteers to serve on a school committee to analyze the school facilities. Each committee will work independently with the school architect and superintendent to analyze the current facilities and make a facilities improvement recommendation to the board. This is a grassroots effort where the community will help shape the direction of the district facilities by assisting the school board."


School Could Set Levy for May

January 5, 2018 - Swift County Monitor Record

"Benson Public Schools could be going to the voters in May asking them to support a levy referendum for basic maintenance and upgrading of district buildings. Just what the projects would be and what they would cost has to be decided yet. School board members are going to rely on input from a cross-section of district citizens for direction on the scope of a building renovation project. Those citizens will be brought together for several meetings, given a tour of facilities, told what problems each has and the challenges the problems present."


 

Posted by dzimmerman  On Aug 02, 2018 at 10:25 AM
  

Benson Public Schools seeks to give students immersive learning experiences that engage them today and equip them for their futures. This summer, one Benson High School senior took his interest in agriculture and biology to Brazil for a two-month study abroad program.

Jay Evan McGee was among the 24 students selected for the prestigious Borlaug-Ruan International Internship through the World Food Prize. This  internship program aims to inspire high school students to embark on career paths in science, agriculture and global development. 

"These experiences are one of kind and completely unique," Jay Evan shared from Brazil. "Personally, this program has changed my life."

As a selected student, Jay Evan received an all-expenses-paid, eight-week hands-on experience, working with world-renowned scientists and policymakers at leading research centers around the globe.

Jay Evan’s journey on this experience began with an FFA project that he completed at Benson High School, under the direction of Ag instructor Nancy Loen. The focus of the paper was How to Use Algae As a Food Source.

Prior to this experience, Jay Evan also was selected to participate in a three-day Global Youth Institute hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation. 

This internship will equip with skills and real-world applications for Jay Evan as he works toward a future degree in biology.  

Congratulations to Jay Evan and his mentor Nancy Loen.

Jay Evan shares about the program in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Eo2X7ceYp0

 

Posted by dzimmerman  On Aug 02, 2018 at 8:27 AM
  

By Dennis Laumeyer, Superintendent

Aug. 14 marks a defining day for Benson Public Schools. After months of planning and preparation, Benson area residents will vote on a referendum plan to equip our community with collaborative learning environments and sought-out activity spaces that engage and elevate our students and our community.

We have a lot to be proud of here in Benson through the enhanced opportunities we provide students to prepare them to learn, earn college credits and gain lifelong skills through a variety of electives and extracurricular activities.

Here are answers to a few key questions as you prepare to vote on Aug. 14:

  • What is the state tax credit on this project? The Minnesota Legislature approved a permanent Ag2School 40 percent tax credit that went into effect in 2017. It gives agriculture land owners and private timber land owners significant tax relief on school bonds and has tripled the state share. When applying it in Benson, this group of local landowners will pay 42 percent of this levy and the state of Minnesota now will pay 28 percent of their portion. That means the state will contribute $11 million to the project, including interest.

  • How do our taxes compare to others?
    Benson Schools ranks lowest in total taxes compared to neighboring districts and this proposed project still will keep the school district tax bill below average.

  • What about interest?
    Like with mortgages and other loans, this project also will have interest. The current rate of about 4 percent is very low. Waiting likely would increases costs. The average impact on a local taxpayer is $6.92 a month, including interest.

  • Where did this plan come from?
    Benson Public Schools called for volunteers last year to assist with evaluating the district’s educational needs and creating an action plan. It led to the development of a 45-member task force representing farmers, business leaders, parents, staff and community members who worked meticulously to develop a plan that is the vision for our school and community.

  • How is the district’s enrollment?
    Benson Public Schools has seen growth in a series of areas, primarily among our community’s youngest learners. Last year’s kindergarten class represented the largest group in our elementary school and Benson Schools now serves 87 percent of the local 4-year-olds in our preschool program to prepare them for school and future success. This plan focuses on right sizing our spaces.The plan adds 55,000 square feet, updates 23,000 square feet, and removes 112,000 square feet.

  • Who gets to bid on the project?
    The construction-related bids would be released in small amounts so local contractors have an opportunity to bid on the project.

Attend Aug. 7 Meeting
Learn more about the project and ask questions at an upcoming meeting on Aug. 7. The meeting will provide an overview of the project with a focus on collaborative learning spaces and security plans. It also will include a review and comment portion. The meeting will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. at Benson High School Cafeteria.

Get updates and learn more today by following the district on Facebook or viewing referendum news.

Posted by dzimmerman  On Aug 02, 2018 at 8:01 AM
  
Benson Public Schools today unveiled the proposed site plan and exterior rendering for the Northside Elementary addition. The plan would bring together the district's earliest learners and grades K-5 in one convenient, safe and dedicated space that promotes active learning. Learn more about the referendum plans for the district.

Benson Elementary Addition Rendering

Key components of the referendum vote on Aug. 14 at Northside Elementary include:
  • A nearly 15,000-square-foot Early Childhood Addition that will accommodate district's child care and preschool programs
  • 40-unit parking lot with convenient drop-off for early childhood
  • A new 3,000-square-foot multi-use space that will serve as a cafeteria, activity space and collaborative learning environment
  • Remodeled kitchen
  • More secure entry

Early Learning Addition

Under this plan, the district would add about 18,000 square feet at Northside Elementary, as shown in dark red below, and remodel a total of 1,600 square feet, as highlighted in light red:

Northside Addition Site Plan
Northside Addition Aerial


View the site plan and rendering for Benson High School.




Posted by dzimmerman  On Jul 23, 2018 at 12:17 PM
  
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