Inver Grove Heights voters reject levy increase to improve classroom technology

/ 27 March 2012 / jennifer

Christopher Magan, Pioneer Press, March 27, 2012 –

Voters in the Inver Grove Heights school district overwhelmingly rejected a tax levy request Tuesday, March 27, that would have raised new funds for classroom technology.

More than 1,600 cast ballots against the measure and 845 voted in favor, according to unofficial results released by Dakota County.

The defeat comes just five months after voters turned down a similar measure by a much smaller margin. Superintendent Deirdre Wells has said the district decided to ask voters again to fund a technology levy because the need “hasn’t gone away.”

Wells was unable to be reached for comment late Tuesday.

The levy would have funded new computers and mobile devices like the iPad and iPod, software updates and improvements to the district’s wireless network.

The 10-year, $7 million levy would have cost the owner of a $200,000 homesteaded property an additional $56 in annual property taxes. The district now spends about $1 million on technology each year from the general fund.

Some voters saw the need for improved classroom technology. Darlene Hueser, a 13-year resident, said she voted for the levy despite not having any children currently attending school in the district.

“That is what people need these days in the workplace,” Hueser said. “I believe in education.”

But for others like Tom Beikler, harsh personal economic realities won out. Beikler recently moved to Inver Grove Heights from Minneapolis, and as a veteran on disability, he said he just couldn’t afford it.

“I think our taxes are too high already,” Beikler said. “I think they should focus more on basic education.”

Inver Grove Heights is one of a number of Twin Cities school districts embracing the digital classroom. Others including Lakeville and Farmington recently found ways to shift resources and fund putting devices like the iPad in the hands of students.

It is unclear what’s next for Inver Grove Heights, but Wells has acknowledged that a dedicated funding source for technology would ease the burden on the district’s already tight general fund.

Christopher Magan can be reached at 651-228-5557. Follow him at twitter.com/cmaganPiPress. Read our blog: Ahead of the Class at blogs.TwinCities.com/education.

http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_20269952/inver-grove-heights-voters-reject-levy-increase-improve