An operating levy, approved by voters in 2007, is expiring next year. It provides $7.3 million for day-to-day school and district operating expenses, including teacher salaries, transportation costs, utilities, classroom supplies and other supports to student learning.
Board members will decide at their July 13 meeting whether to ask voters to approve renewing this levy, and will consider a request for additional operating funds to minimize future cuts, help maintain class sizes and protect student support and educational programs. This request would be for day-to-day operating costs only and would not fund new buildings, renovations or additions.
If approved by the Board, the funding requests would be on the ballot on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 7.
“We have great momentum in our district with the changes we’ve made this year and we want to keep it going,” said Board Chair Abigail Alt. “To do that, we need adequate funding to help all students be successful and to attract and retain quality staff.”
State funding has not kept up with inflation over the past 15 years. According to a report from the Minnesota Department of Education, if state aid had kept up with inflation during that time, the district would be receiving nearly $600 per pupil more in revenue.
The last time the district asked voters to approve an operating levy increase was in 2007.
Lisa Rider, the district's executive of business services, said the district continually reviews finances to look for opportunities to save money or reduce costs and listed some recent savings:
- Three times last year, the Board of Education refinanced debt to lower interest rates to save taxpayers through reduced debt payments. Altogether, refinancing this year will save taxpayers a grand total of $4 million in future debt payments.
- Energy efficiencies that were part of Vision One91 construction at Burnsville High School resulted in a $145,000 rebate check to District 191 recently.
- The district will be installing solar panels on some schools that will lower energy costs for years to come.
- The district was able to give up two leased spaces by moving programs into district buildings, thus eliminating those lease payments.