Minneapolis school board asks public to engage on taxing issues

  • Article by: STEVE BRANDT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 23, 2013 - 9:55 PM

The school board is billing an interactive discussion on the 2014 levy.

Want to get your oar in the water on next year’s school property taxes early in the levy-setting process?

Show up at South High School on Tuesday for what’s billed as an interactive discussion with the Minneapolis school board as it begins discussions leading to setting the 2014 levy. The session at 3131 19th Av. S. will run from 6 to 8 p.m. in the school’s media center.

The session is both an effort to get public sentiment early, and a tryout of the board’s decision to hold occasional less-formal meetings outside the boardroom at 1250 Broadway Av.

Board Chair Alberto Monserrate said that the board doesn’t expect to have a staff recommendation for where to set the levy by meeting time because the district’s finance staff is waiting for relevant information from the state.

“This is going to be like Levy 101,” Monserrate said.

The town hall-style meeting is reminiscent of those that Mayor R.T. Rybak has held in past years about the city’s budget. Finance staff will discuss the how the property levy supports the district’s budget, the different types of levies dedicated to certain purposes, and how the levy will be set.

The levy discussion is beginning before the board gets the recommendations expected to come later this year from an analysis of how to handle a space squeeze as enrollment creeps upward again.

That could trigger an expensive building program, but Monserrate said the study is intended to examine other options. He said none of the normal options, such as busing students across the city or changing attendance boundaries, seems attractive. He said that collaborating with other units of government on space will be explored.

Part of the district’s problem is an imbalance between where space is available (the district leased two North Side buildings to charter schools last year) and where the enrollment crunch is tightest (the city’s southern corners).

The district has a multiyear plan to renovate its buildings but lacks a building expansion blueprint. “We don’t have a plan yet — there’s wants,” Monserrate said. The district spent more than $20 million recently to add space at Lake Harriet Community School’s lower campus and the Keewaydin campus of Lake Nokomis Community School, and to renovate Howe school for its reopening.

Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438

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