White Bear Lake schools weighing options for levy

Facing rising costs, school board members could seek an increase.

A voter-approved levy that has funded textbook and tuba purchases in the White Bear Lake Area Schools for 10 years is due for renewal, and school board members may ask residents to increase the investment.

The board plans on Aug. 12 to set the size of a “capital projects levy” that this year generated about $785,000.

Board Chairwoman Janet Newberg said last week that the board could ask voters to approve the same amount — that is, a straight renewal of the levy first approved by voters in 2003 — or increase it by as much as 100 percent, among other more modest options.

She said that she didn’t have the “stomach” to promote a doubling of the levy. But members have been briefed, she said, about the rising costs of various items such as computer software and hardware and classroom smartboards, as well as other instructional materials.

And, yes, she said, large musical instruments — those too unwieldy for students to transport to and from school — still have to be replaced.

In 2013, the capital projects levy cost the owner of a $200,000 home about $26. If the levy were to be increased by 25 percent, that portion of the property-tax bill would rise from $26 to $32, a $6 increase. If the levy were boosted by 50 percent, 75 percent or 100 percent, the additional taxes for a $200,000 home would be $13, $19 or $25, respectively.

Last month, the board asked the administration to prepare a capital projects levy question for consideration at its Aug. 12 meeting. That followed a survey commissioned by the board in May that showed “strong community support” for the capital projects levy, the district said.

The White Bear Lake district serves students in Ramsey and Washington counties. Levy proposals also are headed to the ballot in November in the Stillwater and South Washington County school districts. □

Anthony Lonetree • 651-925-5036

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