Most school levies win voter support across Minnesota
Tim Post, Minnesota Public Radio, November 6, 2013 – Property tax levies for school construction and operating expenses had passed in at least 50 districts. Voters in six districts had turned the measures down as of early Wednesday morning.
Seventy-six of Minnesota’s 333 school districts had property tax levy requests on Tuesday’s ballot — a typical number for an off-year election. School districts asked for local taxpayer support on Tuesday, even after Minnesota lawmakers approved $485 million in new education funding last session.
Roughly $134 million of the new funding doesn’t arrive until next year, and it’s meant to fund all-day kindergarten. School officials appreciate that money, but many say it wasn’t enough to end the need for school levy requests.
The largest Minnesota district with a levy question on the ballot on Tuesday was Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan. Voters in the district approved a new operating levy that will provide $30 million in revenue to the district every year over the next 10 years.
In the Eastern Carver County district voters approved a levy that will provide $14 million for classroom technology and school safety. They also voted to continue an operating levy providing $9 million a year in revenue to the district over the next decade.
“It will maintain class sizes,” said Brett Johnson, the district’s spokesman. “We’ll be able to keep 28 courses in both our high schools, we’ll be able to keep hand on science in our elementary schools.”
In Bloomington voters approved a 10-year, $60 million capital levy for technology in the classroom and security at the district’s schools.
The money will be used to better secure school entrances, according to district spokesman Rick Kaufman.
“Access points that are limited, and (limiting) who can be in the building and driving them into the office to check in, run through a visitor management system and make sure we have the people that are supposed to be in the building, in the building,” Kaufman said.
NEW CONSTRUCTION, RENOVATIONS WIN APPROVAL
Voters across the state also supported most of the levies for new school construction or classroom renovation that were on the ballot.
Several school districts are adding capacity to make room for more students next fall when the state beings to fully support all day kindergarten.
Among the districts where voters passed school bonding measures were Inver Grove Heights, Pelican Rapids, St. Louis Park and Osseo.
Voters in Worthington gave the thumbs down to a proposal to build a new school and to continue an operating levy.
Voters in the Eden Prairie district turned down a proposal to increase an operating levy form $1,306 a year to $2,269 a year. But voters approved renewal of the district’s technology capital project, which will bring in $60 million over 10 years for classroom technology needs.
In the Stillwater district, voters approved a levy that increases per pupil support from taxpayers to more than $1,500 a year for the next eight years.
Here are the results in detail. We’ll refresh the tables as more results come in.