The Rushford-Peterson School District, located in the southeast corner of the state, serves 700 students in a Greater Minnesota community consisting of 70% agricultural property. The District had two schools and recognized their significant needs for facilities maintenance, upgrades and additions in 2000. Their diminished tax base and limited state financial assistance for building programs attributed to challenges gaining voter support. Ehlers collaborated with the District in holding multiple bond referendums from 2000 – 2013, attempting to address the District’s capital needs. None were successful, even after two floods caused extensive damage, greatly increasing facility needs and urgency.
District officials engaged Ehlers for school finance services. Rushford-Peterson Superintendent engaged Ehlers in 2013 to create a proposal requesting additional state financial support for building programs for schools affected by natural disasters. Legislation was drafted to implement the proposal, supported with testimony. The legislature approved the proposal, providing a higher level of debt equalization aid for bonds passed by voters to assist in repair/replacement of facilities damaged by natural disasters.
A $38.16 million bond issue request was brought to voters in the fall of 2014 for approval to construct a new preK-12 facility. The new legislation proposal granted the District state aid to pay over half the cost of debt service payments over 20 years. Rushford-Peterson voters approved the new project and the District broke ground on their new facility in 2015. The new school opened to students in the fall of 2017.