Funding stakes high in Mahtomedi School District

  • Article by: ANTHONY LONETREE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 29, 2014 - 11:47 PM

The Mahtomedi School District begins the 2014-15 school year on a one-of-a-kind high on Tuesday.

But community members could be excused for being a bit anxious, too, as a crucial funding proposal heads to voters in November.

Last week’s release of state standardized test data put Mahtomedi Public Schools at No. 1 statewide in both math and reading results. Eighty-five percent of its students were deemed proficient in math in 2013-14, and 82 percent in reading, said Lynne Viker, the district’s director of teaching and learning.

“The hard work shows,” she said.

Results were stellar last year, too, however, when Mahtomedi went on to become one of the few districts in the state to see voters reject a bid for new operating revenues.

Now, if the proposal to raise an additional $593 per student were to fail, an effort to reduce elementary-school class sizes could give way to classes growing, instead, district officials say.

The district is being clearer about the consequences, and that should help its cause, Superintendent Mark Larson said.

“We’re confident that the community will support the students and staff, but we will keep working hard to make sure people know the facts before the election,” he said.

If approved, the proposal would raise the district’s share of the annual tax bill for a $300,000 home — the median value in Mahtomedi — by $360.

In a bid to strengthen its case, the district also is limiting the number of students who enter the district through open enrollment — a hot-button issue for some residents.

“It’s as tight as it’s ever been,” Larson said of the flow of nonresidents.

Elsewhere, the Forest Lake Area school board opted to wait until 2015 to decide whether to seek voter approval of a new school facilities plan. A $176 million bond proposal was defeated in May.

Anthony Lonetree • 651-925-5036

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