The Lake Superior School District is hoping residents will approve two referendum questions Nov. 2 totaling more than $51.4 million.

The first question, if approved, would invest $44.1 million for upgrades to William Kelley School in Silver Bay, Minnehaha Elementary School in Two Harbors and Two Harbors High School.

Two Harbors High School would receive improvements to the ventilation system and light fixtures and create a secured entrance. The other two schools would also receive significant renovations.

Lake Superior School District Superintendent Jay Belcastro holds large cards he uses to inform citizens about an upcoming referendum that will raise money to improve school buildings and athletic facilities in the district on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Two Harbors. 
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
Lake Superior School District Superintendent Jay Belcastro holds large cards he uses to inform citizens about an upcoming referendum that will raise money to improve school buildings and athletic facilities in the district on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Two Harbors. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

The second question, if approved and if the first question passes, would give the district $7.3 million to upgrade athletic facilities at William Kelley and Two Harbors.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

According to Superintendent Jay Belcastro, the district will be paying off the bond debt from the Two Harbors High School construction project in two years. If Question 1 is approved, the new levy will be tax neutral for residents.

Question 2 would cause an increase in property taxes. Belcastro said it would equal about $3 per month on a home valued at $200,000.

Framed by the lines of a goalpost, the Silver Bay football team practices at the school Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Silver Bay. The Lake Superior School District in Two Harbors and Silver Bay has a referendums on the Nov. 2 ballot asking voters for a $3 property tax increase on a home valued at $200,000 in order to update the athletic facilities. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
Framed by the lines of a goalpost, the Silver Bay football team practices at the school Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Silver Bay. The Lake Superior School District in Two Harbors and Silver Bay has a referendums on the Nov. 2 ballot asking voters for a $3 property tax increase on a home valued at $200,000 in order to update the athletic facilities. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

The upgrades to the William Kelley athletic complex would be a huge deal for the school, students and community, Belcastro said. William Kelley has a dirt track around a nine-man football field.

The upgrades would give William Kelley an artificial turf field that could be lined for multiple sports as well as an all-weather track around the field. The track would allow the Silver Bay track team to practice as a team in Silver Bay as well as host track meets. Any track member who runs hurdles has to drive to Two Harbors to practice.

Halsted Field seen on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Two Harbors. 
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
Halsted Field seen on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Two Harbors. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Two Harbors would be given an artificial turf football field and practice field lined for softball if Question 2 is approved. Softball plays home games off-campus at the city’s Odegard Park.

Belcastro said any money in the funds to maintain the current grass fields in Two Harbors and Silver Bay will be converted into a fund that would be used as a type of savings account to replace the artificial turf in the future. He said having artificial turf would be a definite cost savings.

“We put money into replacing grass a few years ago in Two Harbors and unfortunately, the surface itself, for some reason, will not allow the grass to root properly,” Belcastro said.

The Two Harbors football team practices on Halsted Field on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Two Harbors. 
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
The Two Harbors football team practices on Halsted Field on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Two Harbors. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

The issues with the surface have required Two Harbors’ football team to rent turf fields elsewhere to play playoff games that should be played at home, which costs the district concession stand and ticket money by having to pay to rent a turf field from another district.

“The kids earned the right to have that home game and home game experience, and we’re excited to bring that opportunity to them through the successful passing of Question 2,” Belcastro said.

Both schools would receive a new sound system and new LED lighting. William Kelley would have a concession stand and bathroom building built where the current playground is located, as well as reconstructed softball and baseball fields that would rotate the field 180 degrees. Two Harbors’ tennis courts would also be resurfaced.

Lake Superior School District Superintendent Jay Belcastro stands in an area of the Minnehaha Elementary School on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Two Harbors. The area will be opened up if funding for renovations are approved. 
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
Lake Superior School District Superintendent Jay Belcastro stands in an area of the Minnehaha Elementary School on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Two Harbors. The area will be opened up if funding for renovations are approved. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Minnehaha and William Kelley will receive full renovations as well as additions. The Minnehaha’s addition will include a new kitchen and cafeteria. The William Kelley addition will include a new school office, band room and choir room.

All three schools will receive security updates that will force all visitors to move through a secured area. At Minnehaha and William Kelley, those secured areas will be the school offices. At Two Harbors, the office will remain but a security room will be added at Door 12 outside the media room.

This has been a major issue in all three schools, which have secured entrances with cameras, but once visitors enter, they are not forced to go into an office, which is considered a security risk.

The staircase leading to the main entrance of the Minnehaha Elementary School on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Two Harbors. The school has no entrances that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
The staircase leading to the main entrance of the Minnehaha Elementary School on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Two Harbors. The school has no entrances that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Question 1 also includes funds and plans to renovate the bus garages in Two Harbors and Silver Bay.

There is some concern about the passing of the referendums as it took three tries for the district to get voter approval for the Two Harbors High School levy referendum. Belcastro said that is why the district is hosting many community informational meetings and had a very detailed website built in hopes of getting the referendum questions approved the first time around.

Residents can find more information on the referendum questions and the plans for funds at anchorourfuture.org.