This November, South Washington County Schools (SoWashCo Schools) will ask voters two questions to consider a school funding increase.
The first ballot question asks voters to consider an increase to the current operating levies. If approved, the ballot would revoke operating levies from 2015 and 2017 and combine into one operating levy to provide funding for classrooms, instruction and other school operating costs.
The second ballot question asks voters to consider an increase to the capital projects levy for technology. This levy will fund improved instructional technology and infrastructure, support staffing, and maintenance and support for student and staff devices.
If Voters Approve the RequestS, the funding would help:
- Provide stability in operations so the district can address challenges with growth in the community, facility needs and uneven enrollment increases
- Limit additional budget cuts to programs and staffing
- Offset required and unfunded costs for special education, English learner and related services
- On track to meet the school board policy that requires 5-9% of savings
- Advance curriculum and digital access to learning
- Update educational and business software licensing
- Maintain the devices distributed to students and staff during the pandemic with a refresh cycle to keep devices updated
- Strengthen personalized learning through technology
If voters do not approve the requestS, additional budget cuts WOULD likely result in:
- Potential cuts to
- Staff and academic programs
- Athletics and activities programming
- Administration and support staff
- Reexamination of attendance boundaries to reduce transportation costs
- Closing or repurposing low-enrollment schools (before a long-range facilities plan can address these challenges properly)
- Device and technology costs would come from the general fund
- Technology support and device maintenance for families and staff would be limited
- Device upgrade cycles would be delayed
What is an operating levy?
Operating levies are voter-approved and provide funding for classrooms, instruction and other school operating costs. SoWashCo Schools is asking voters to consider revoking the 2015 and 2017 operating levies to create a new operating levy that increases funds from $1,536.60 per student to $1,886.60 per student. The operating levy would generate an additional $6.9 million per year. The funds would include an annual increase at the rate of inflation for 10 years.
If state funding had kept up with inflation over the past 18 years, we would have received nearly $561 more per student this year – or a total of $10.4 million.
Source: Minnesota Department of Education Inflation Estimates, July 2021
Capital Projects Levy
What is a capital projects levy?
A capital projects levy provides funds for improved instructional technology, support staffing, maintenance and support for student devices and enhanced technology infrastructure. SoWashCo Schools is asking voters to consider revoking the current capital project levy of $2 million and to replace it with a new capital projects levy to raise approximately $5 million for technology (which equates to an additional $3 million per year). The increase would raise the funding from $112 per student to $270 per student for 10 years.
When compared to every school district in the state of Minnesota with a capital projects levy, South Washington County Schools has the lowest levy at only $112 per student.
$112 does not cover costs of device, accessories and licenses for iPads at $350 each (K-2) and Chromebooks at $310 each (3-12).
Shown: School districts with a capital projects levy among the top 10 districts by student population.