West metro schools referendum roundup

  • Article by: BEN JOHNSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 27, 2013 - 1:46 PM

Education law inspired several districts to hold them.

A pair of provisions in the Gov. Mark Dayton-championed education law passed by the Legislature in May have inspired a crowded slate of school referendums this fall.

The mandate requiring all school districts to offer all-day kindergarten and a subsequent provision allowing districts to raise their levies to help pay for that mandate led many to take to the polls on Nov. 5.

Here’s a rundown on which west metro school districts are holding referendums, what those districts are seeking, and what the levies would pay for.

Bloomington

The district is proposing a new capital project levy that would raise $6 million per year over a period of 10 years. The levy would set aside $2 million per year for safety and security upgrades and $4 million per year for technology expenses.

If approved, it would replace a levy approved in 2007 that raised $3 million per year. According to the district, that levy is only bringing in $2.7 million per year because it was tied to property values, which have gone down. For more information, go to www.bloomington.k12.mn.us/2013-referendum.

Eastern Carver County

Two questions will be on the ballot. The first asks for a renewal of the district’s existing capital project levy, which makes up about 10 percent of the district’s annual budget at $9.1 million per year.

The second question, which is contingent upon voter approval of the first one, asks voters to approve an increase of the capital project levy. That increase would raise an additional $2.45 million per year over six years. For more information, go to www.district112.org/pages/112ISD/District_Informa tion/Referendum_2013.

Eden Prairie

Two questions will be on the Eden Prairie district’s ballot. The first asks voters to revoke the existing operating levy of $1,306 per pupil and replace it with a levy of $2,269 per pupil for the next 10 years, beginning with the 2014-15 school year. According to the district, the tax impact on the new operating levy would be about $357 more per year on a $300,000 house, which is the median value of a home in Eden Prairie.

The second question asks to renew the existing technology/capital projects levy at a 6.52845 percent tax rate for the next 10 years, beginning with the 2015-16 school year.

Hopkins

Two questions will be on the Hopkins district’s ballot. The first asks voters to revoke the existing operating levy of $1,901.20 per pupil and replace it with a levy that raises $2,319.43 per pupil. The new levy would begin in 2014 and run for 10 years.

The second proposes a new capital project levy that would raise $1.75 million per year for 10 years. These additional funds would be used for software, technology and security upgrades, as well as kitchen improvements at North Junior High and Glen Lake and Tanglen elementary schools.

Howard Lake- Waverly-Winsted

Two questions will be on this district’s ballot. The first proposes a $2.315 million school building bond to put toward the construction of a new middle school and the demolition or repair of an existing middle school.

The second question, which is contingent upon voter approval of the first one, asks for an additional $6.63 million school building bond to renovate and remodel Humphrey and Winsted elementary schools.

Lester Prairie

Lester Prairie is proposing to renew its existing property tax referendum at $351.76 per pupil. The current referendum expires after 2013. The referendum request would add $137.95 annually to the property tax bill for an owner of a $200,000 home, according to the district.

Orono

Orono is asking residents to revoke referendums passed in 2004 and 2006 and replace them with a new levy that would raise the amount of revenue per pupil by $400, from $1,461.71 to $1,861.71.

According to the district, the increase would represent a tax increase of approximately $15 per month for an owner of a $450,000 home. The additional revenue would help protect the district’s recent program enhancements in world languages, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and guidance services, as well as to maintain reasonable class sizes.

Osseo

Osseo is proposing to replace its current operating levy and to create a new capital projects levy. The capital projects levy would raise approximately $5 million per year for 10 years to address technology deficiencies at all of the district’s schools. A comprehensive look at that proposal is available at https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=34216066.

The district also wants to replace an operating levy approved in 2007 that raises $33 million per year. The new levy would raise $42 million per year. According to the district, that increase would raise property taxes about $7 per month for an owner of a $192,000 home.

Richfield

After successfully persuading voters to renew and increase its operating levy last year, the Richfield district is returning to the polls in an attempt to renew and increase its capital project levy.

The first question will ask voters to renew its capital project levy, which raises $1.3 million annually, although that number fluctuates because it is tied to property values. The second question proposes to increase the levy by an additional $915,000 per year.

St. Louis Park

Three questions will be on the ballot. The first proposes to revoke a capital project levy that has raised $1.1 million annually for technology upgrades during the last 15 years, and to replace it with a new levy that would raise $1.75 million annually over the next 10 years, starting in 2014.

The next question asks about a $14.9 million one-time bond issue that would be paid back over the next nine years. The bond money would be used to build three new classrooms at Aquila and Susan Lindgren elementary schools, and three new classrooms and a new cafeteria at Peter Hobart Elementary. The money also would cover deferred maintenance at every school in the district, as well as at city community centers.

The last question proposes a new operating levy for the district, which would bring St. Louis Park schools $1.1 million annually over the next 10 years.

 

Ben Johnson • 612-673-4499

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