One-Third Of Minn. Schools Seek Levy Approval

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — With years of lagging state support behind them and seeing little chance of a turnaround in the future, about a third of Minnesota school districts intend to go to their taxpayers for help this fall, the Minnesota School Boards Association reported Wednesday.

“When you’re in a school district and you look at how the state has been funding schools for the past 10 years, and you look forward to what to expect, it’s not too good,” said Greg Abbott, association spokesman.

He said 113 school districts have taken the necessary question to put an operating levy on the November ballot. Fifty-one percent of them would renew an existing levy. Some seek to both renew a levy and ask for additional money.

“The big thing is that more than half of them are renewals,” Abbott said. “It won’t have a big increase in most people’s taxes.”

It will be the busiest Election Day for Minnesota schools in the past 10 years, surpassing the 101 levy elections in 2007 but trailing the 188 elections in 2001, he said.

It might even be more than 113 districts, Abbott said, but the association doesn’t yet have a final tally of districts going to their voters for capital improvements, such as remodeling buildings or leasing technology. He said he expected a total of 125 to 130 districts will have questions on the November ballot.

Figures from the Minnesota Department of Education show that per-pupil education funding has failed to keep up with inflation since 2003, leaving school districts more reliant on local taxpayers.

However, Rep. Patrick Garofalo, R-Farmington, the chairman of the House Education Finance Committee, said that during the past session the Legislature approved a $100 bump in per-pupil spending along with other increases that totaled a $650 million increase in education spending.

Garofalo has been critical of districts asking for more money from taxpayers, as opposed to just seeking to renew an existing levy.

“For taxpayers, the first question is how are districts planning on spending their first increase (from the Legislature) before they start spending their second increase” from a new levy, he said.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • I'm Just Sayin'

    no link to the list? nice.

  • James

    How about a general reduction in operating costs and overhead burden… IE dismember the teachers unions? Worked for Walker in Wisconsin. You know it did, don’t even argue the point. Needs to happen in Minnesota. (think of the “children”).

    • G Dog

      As a teacher, I want the ability to cut your salary.

      • MKIA

        To late.No cost of living for the last two years.
        Nor do I expect to receive a raise or cost of living EVER.

      • Citizen

        As a tax payer, and I want the ability to hold you accountable when you don’t perform well. Don’t get me wrong, there are many good teachers out there that deserve to be rewarded for their good work. There’s just far too many bad ones that are just going through the motions, collecting a paycheck and expecting a raise the next year.
        Until the Unions hold their members accountable for poor performance, James is right on point.

        • Joe

          “To late”? Obviously you slept through English class.

    • Check it out

      Even with what Walker did in Wisconsin, the teachers in Wisconsin still have a better package than in Minnesota.

  • MKIA

    Time for private only schools.

    • G Dog

      I’ve got plenty of students I’d like to send to private school – truants, drug addicts, juveniles in and out of Lino Lakes Juvenile , gang members – do you think Breck or Blake would take them?? I

      • me

        I can set up a private school that would. Hook em up to electroshock machines.
        Each wrong answer on a quiz & ZZAP! Give them an INCENTIVE to pay attention & do well…

  • curly_racks

    Find more effeciencies and cut overpaid administrators

    • board_member

      If you take a deeper look at what most of the these school districts have been doing for the past few years, you’ll come to realize that they have been doing exactly what you have suggested for quite a few years. You will now begin to start seeing more drastic measures taken because the low hanging fruit has been picked.

      • Citizen

        I look at the middle school that my children are in, there is a Principal and four Assistant Principals. Do we really need five 6-figure salaries doing the Principal and AP jobs? For a school that size, no way do we need that many. I also look at all of the extracurricular things like ski clubs, and the multiple sporting activities. Do we need them? They’re nice, but no we don’t need them. Do we really need all of the support staff . . . community coordinators? Once again, nice to have, but no way do we “need” them. (I hear the high school that they will go to next year is just as top heavy as the middle school.)
        Bottom line, you haven’t even come close to picking all of the low hanging fruit. But you will cut teachers and then guilt us into passing the levy next time because classrooms are overcrowded.

        • board_member

          That may be true for your school. Could I assume that yours is one asking for the levy? That is why I said “most”. At this point I think it is fair to say our problems may be the same, but perhaps not on the same level dollar wise. I come from a K-12 district with a student population of approximately 200. Our district has been tightening the belt long before I came on the board. And I agree, reducing administration is something to look into. Very carefully. I hope everyone realizes that we’re all in this together. If it doesn’t come from our “public” government at the state level…then it trickles down to the county level. And that is what we are starting to see. It certainly forces our schools to go lean, which is great. But we just need to make sure it isn’t too lean. That is what worries me.

          • Citizen

            This is going slightly of topic . . . But needs to be addressed too. It’s about time we start retaining and compensating teachers based on performance rather than tenure. Not all of them, but there are far too many teachers that just show-up for work and really don’t make an effort to “teach”. There are also far too many young teachers who really have the fire in them to make a difference, but they get let go. Not because they aren’t performing, but because someone has been there longer. Having more years under one’s belt doesn’t always equate to better performance. It’s about time school boards start to stand up to the unions and demand that retention and compensation is based on one’s performance not tenure.

  • Carl

    I guess the school districts havent received the memo: Cut Spending!! You need to reduce spending in any shape or form. I hope all the levies get voted down!

    • @Carl

      Ditto, I agree with you Carl, I hope all the levies get voted down because it is time for the schools to start cutting administration costs and not the teachers and quit bleeding us dry it is never enough with the schools, they are getting a $100.00 dollars more per pupil this year and that’s still not enough. I’m tired of paying for everything because they can’t get their act together. Anytime someone wants money lets just tax the property owners they can pay for it but we can’t even tax the filthy rich one dollar to pay their fair share.

      • G Dog

        Our District has been cutting spending for years. That’s why the class sizes are 35 -42 at a local high school.

        What you fail to understand, Carl, is the the State has “stolen” $2 to $3 billion dollars from schools to balance Governor Pawlenty’s budgets and shifts so he didn’t have to ask the rich to pay their share. Those losses get passed on to the school districts. With less money to provide programs for students, where else can the $ come from? On top of that, Districts must borrow money (meaning they have to pay interest above the principal).

        I’m surprised that the fact that 1/3 of school Districts in the state are seeking levies doesn’t indicate to you that there is a funding problem, not a spending problem. You can’t be that uninformed. can you? Have you inspected your school districts budget? Have you sat down with the financial manager of your District?

        Or are you just throwing around “cut, cut, cut” based on political rhetoric rather than practical economics?

  • Douglas MacArthur

    just say NO o drugs and school levies !

  • JP

    Legislate out Federal unions, state unions, and local govt. employee associations/unions.
    They are all extortionists! ripping off their members AND the public!
    Kennedy did us no favor in signing off on Federal union legality.
    Education, Health Care, Federal/State unions, ALL COLLUSION instead of competition. State licensing requirements not competency, decide who works and who doesn’t.
    We simply live in a society that has the MOB transformed into our controlling Govt. Unless Unions are dealth with, we may just as well just declare bankruptcy now, so we can discontinue these crinimal agreements with finality, and get back to business.

    I thought teachers are professionals? Apparently not bright enough to negotiate an employment agreement without some detached entity speaking ‘for’ them.

    Unions were for the undereducated, now they are just another revenue stream!


  • zee the reporter

    you have to cut the bull just like the old days

  • Rob

    I work in District #834 and they also want more money. Let’s all say no. Get out and vote No Levies or Bonds!!!!

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