Voters in three Ramsey County school districts will be asked Tuesday to renew or replace tax levies to cover operating costs or buy things like textbooks, science equipment and musical instruments.
The levy requests being made in the Roseville and Mounds View school districts would not lead to an increase of the school district's portion of property tax bills. In White Bear Lake, the levy would increase those costs $19 a year for a home valued at $200,000 (close to the median), going from $26 to $45 annually, according to school district figures.
White Bear Lake
The 10-year levy being sought is not a direct renewal of one from 2003 that is expiring, although its purpose is unchanged — to equip students with educational materials and technology.
While the expiring levy generated nearly $800,000 this year, the new levy would bring in about $1.4 million annually.
White Bear Lake voters approved the 2003 capital projects levy to set aside money specifically for what the school district called "the 4 T's": textbooks, test tubes, technology and tubas. It was used to supplant state revenue that lagged during that decade.
The district points to direct results from that investment: the best improvement in state science proficiency in the east metro, meeting the federal Adequate Yearly Progress for four consecutive years — one of only two east-metro districts to have done that — and the ranking of White Bear Lake Area High School in the top 1 percent statewide in the state's most recent Multiple Measure Ratings.
Roseville voters are being asked to renew an operating levy approved in 2006 that generates about $11.4 million a year and pays for teachers, staff, bus service, technology and other operating costs.
As with White Bear Lake and many school districts statewide, it was first passed in response to state funding cuts.
The new levy would be for eight years. For homes valued between $200,000 and $350,000, the school district's portion of the property tax would actually drop by an average of $1 in 2015. But the levy would be indexed each year to the rate of inflation, and continue to cover those operating costs.
The school district points to enrollment growth of 10.3 percent over the past seven years as one of the main reasons the levy renewal is needed.
As with Roseville, voters in Mounds View are being asked to renew a levy they passed in 2006 that is expiring.
The levy generates $11.5 million annually, which is equivalent to the cost of 130 teachers and has been essential in providing stable class sizes and innovative programs during less-than-stable financial times, according to the school district.
The levy would cost taxpayers $105 annually for each $100,000 of their property value and would remain unchanged for another eight years.