Financial Levy Means Better Technology, Maintenance of ProgramsThe District 197 School Board has approved a levy question for the November 2010 election. Additional funds are necessary because of stagnant state funding and rising costs.
By: Becca Wilton, Sibley Scribe
The District 197 School Board has approved a levy question for the November 2010 election. The levy is set to replace an existing levy that will expire in 2012, and it will increase the district’s levy authority to the maximum if voted for.
The main reason for the new levy, other than the looming expiration of the old levy, is the growing gap between state funding and cost of operations. With inflation and the cost of maintaining the district’s schools increasing every year while state funding remains the same, it is becoming more and more difficult for the district to keep up the same standard in its programs. The new levy would generate an approximate $347 more per student than the existing levy, adding a total of around $1.6 million to the district budget. If the levy were not approved, the district would face a $1.4 million shortfall for school year 2011-2012, and a $3.1 million shortfall for school year 2012-2013. This would mean limited course offerings, limited school choice and less individualized attention for students. This could be catastrophic for the district.
The district hopes to update and expand their instructional technology programs as well as retain its variety of other educational programs that help prepare students for life after high school and college. Superintendent Jay Haugen says, “We know that deliberate planning for life after graduation is essential in today’s competitive and rapidly changing world. While it is important that we allow time for our students to explore and grow, we also need to help students and families think about the future. We need to ensure that not only are our students academically prepared for ‘the real world,’ but they also need to have access to resources and have experiences that give them the tools they need to be successful.” New programs could include online learning, more flexible scheduling and increased mentorship opportunities.
The levy affects the larger community by slightly raising property taxes. If the levy passes, homeowners are looking at an approximate $35 increase per $100,000 of home value annually (roughly $2.60 per month). This amount, though, is far below what comparable districts in Dakota County pay in property taxes, and it is well below the state average. This would remain the case even if the levy were approved.
Two more community meetings about the levy are scheduled : Tuesday, October 26, from 6:30 to 8 PM at Pilot Knob Elementary and Thursday, October 28, from 6:30 to 8 PM at Heritage Middle School.