The Lakeville school district plans to ask voters to approve a $3.2 million levy referendum in November — just two years after voters approved a $5.6 million referendum.
But school officials say this levy’s purpose is different from the previous request.
“The one in 2013 really was an operational levy that we needed to do so that we didn’t have to make more reductions,” Superintendent Lisa Snyder said. “This one is more to keep us stable, to continue making positive progress.”
The school board hasn’t yet approved putting the referendum on the ballot, but is expected to do so at an Aug. 11 board meeting, Snyder said.
The first question, a $2 million capital levy, would fund technology upgrades, including new devices. It would also pay for security improvements and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) equipment at the high schools.
The second question is a $1.2 million operating levy that would be used to hire more teachers and reduce class sizes at the high schools, restore elementary-level art classes and add fifth-grade band. It would also help pay for curriculum for Project Lead the Way, an engineering program.
The board had considered making the passage of each question contingent on the other question’s approval, but decided against it. Still, the two questions go together, said Judy Keliher, board member.
“Either one question or the other does not do it by itself,” she said. “The success of both questions will help move our strategic plan forward.”
In the seven years before the 2013 referendum, the district cut $30 million from its budget, resulting in bigger class sizes, higher fees for activities and cuts in busing, art and music programs.
The district has brought some of those things back. The 2013 referendum paid for more elementary school teachers, decreasing class sizes. The 2015-16 budget includes funding that allows the district to reduce activity fees for some sports and reinstitute return busing from games.
School board members will be talking to voters this fall, explaining why the additional funding is necessary, Snyder said. It’s not about avoiding cuts, but keeping up with future education trends, she said.
“I do think the messaging will be quite different [from the last referendum], just because of what we’re trying to accomplish,” she said.
Keliher said the district’s strategic plan guided the proposed 2015 referendum, and noted that plan was made by residents.
“The voters are the ones who helped draft and build the strategic plan,” she said. “Everybody had input in developing it … This isn’t our vision, it’s their vision.”