Faced with an operating levy set to expire and a need for additional revenue, the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage District 191 Board of Education unanimously approved asking voters to consider two school funding requests on the ballot for Election Day, Nov. 7.
Question 1: Renew an existing operating levy, which is due to expire. If not renewed, the district would lose more than $7 million in annual funding that currently supports day-to-day school and district operating expenses, including retaining quality staff, transportation costs, utilities, classroom supplies and other supports to student learning.
Question 2: Increase the operating levy to provide $3.9 million in additional annual resources to minimize future budget cuts, help maintain class sizes and protect student support and educational programs. Q2 is contingent on Q1; Q2 can only pass if Q1 is approved.
If voters approve both questions, the net tax impact on the average district home (value $250,000) will be $10 per month.
“Our goal is to ensure each student is future ready, so that all doors are open to them to realize their dreams,” said Superintendent Cindy Amoroso. “Educating and supporting our students requires resources; resources that are in increasingly short supply due to inadequate state funding, increasing educational costs and inflation.”
According to Lisa Rider, District 191 Executive Director of Business Services, several factors contributed to the district’s need for increased revenue to support educational programs, including:
- State funding has not kept up with inflation nor increasing educational costs over the past 15 years. A report from the Minnesota Department of Education indicates that if state aid had merely kept up with inflation during that time, the district would be receiving nearly $600 per student more in revenue.
- State and federal funding does not cover required special education services, forcing the district to use general operating funds to pay for those expenses.
- The district has not asked for an operating levy increase since 2007.
Meanwhile, the district is constantly looking for ways to reduce costs and save money, including refinancing debt, implementing energy efficiencies and moving out of leased space.
“We are the stewards of our community’s schools, a job we take very seriously,” said Board Chair Abigail Alt. “Increased funding is needed to maintain the momentum of Vision One91 by providing students and staff with the programs and supports they need to succeed.”
A referendum website is being developed which will include more detailed information; visit www.isd191.org/referendum for ongoing information.