By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Voters in one-third of Minnesota’s school districts will vote Tuesday on whether they should give more money to their schools.

One hundred and thirteen districts in the state have an operating levy on the ballot.

About half of those are looking to renew an existing levy — the other half are seeking to renew a levy and get additional money.

The Anoka-Hennepin School District, which is the largest in the state, is asking voters to renew a levy and approve two new ones.

The pamphlets, the flyers, the questionnaires — all with information aimed at getting voters in the Anoka-Hennepin School District to say “yes” to schools.

“These are about the day-to-day things we need in the classroom,” said Education Minnesota’s Julie Blaha.

Anoka-Hennepin will ask voters three questions about funding.

The first would renew the existing levy, so it will not increase taxes.

“Question two will cost an average taxpayer $2.58 a month and that would give us the kind of technology we need to be productive and efficient in the classroom. Question three, which would only cost $10.22 a month for an average homeowner, would simply be insurance against future state funding shortfalls,” Blaha said.

If the levies fail, Blaha said students and teachers will be impacted.

“We’d be looking at class sizes in the elementary over 40 students. We’d be over 50 in high school classes. We’d be cutting over 500 teachers,” said Blaha.

Education Minnesota blames lagging state funding and an accounting shift during the past legislative session that shifted a bulk of state aid funding into the next fiscal year.

But the push to get voters to help has its critics.

“It’s reasonable for taxpayers to ask how these first increases are being spent before granting a second one,” said Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington.

Garofalo said voters should ask questions of districts that seek to raise rather than renew levies.

He said the recent increase in state aid to education was substantial.

“Over $650 million increase, now the state of Minnesota is spending over $14.5 billion to educate about 850,000 children,” Garofalo said.

Comments (14)
  1. Mike Jacobson says:

    I love the no fail 3 tier vote. They know the 3rd wont pass so all of us good MN citizens will say ok to the 2nd, less costlier tax increase. It works most of the time but it won’t work tomorrow. WE HAVE NO MONEY!

  2. Dave says:

    40 to 50 in a class, holy ****. is this really how we want our kids to grow up. Think about back when we were in school, would we really have learned anything if their were that many of us in a class.

  3. Susan says:

    The schools need the money because it’s real expensive to teach kids it OK for Johnny to have two dads.

    1. Susan's single and bitter says:

      Susan, you had to go there? What’s your point? Check your English grammar while you’re at it. HA!

      1. Susan says:

        You don’t get the point? School’s curriculum and spending are out of control and the students are not benefiting..

        Calling people names instead of discussing topics means you need to get in control of your emotions and thoughts.

  4. Kevin says:

    We are ranked #36th in the nation….WE NEED MORE MONEY!!!!

    1. NoMoreMoney says:

      If we are ranked 36th in the nation, perhaps WE NEED BETTER TEACHERS. The schools need to learn how to budget and spend taxpayer money as if that is all they are going to receive.

      I don’t know about others but I am all tapped out. Asking me to pay more today for what the schools think they will be short tomorrow is absurd.

      Does anyone really believe that sending more money is going to increase the quality of education?

  5. Billy tough as nails says:

    Is it too much to ask Reg to report every district that has a vote tomorrow instead of just the one with the biggest population. This the web, you can cover than two minutes here. Unless, Reg doesn’t have the time for a full report because of cutbacks at WCCO.

  6. Homeschoolmama says:

    “Over $650 million increase, now the state of Minnesota is spending over $14.5 billion to educate about 850,000 children,”

    Simple math says that’s $17,059 per child per year.

    I would have no problem with this if the teachers were paid better, or if our students were getting the best education in the nation, or if they had state-of-the-art buildings to learn in, or if their extracurricular options were mind-boggling…

    As things stand, the mind just boggles.

    I homeschool my children. Sure, I don’t pay myself – nor do I count our mortgage as a school-building expense, but STILL… my kids are being taught for less than $500 each per year – with NEW curriculum every year! I’d love to hear where all this money goes, such that half the 3rd-5th graders in our church on Wednesday are illiterate!

  7. More money isn't the answer says:

    Throwing money at a problem doesn’t solve the problem.

    Schools, like families, need to tighten up their belts, increase their efficiency, and make do with what they already have.

    One thing the schools have clearly excelled at is convincing teachers, students, parents, politicians, and much of the general public that “little Johnny” or “little Suzie” will suffer greatly if they don’t get all their referendums passed.

    In most cases that is patently false yet those who preach it (or who merely repeat what they’ve been told) have unmatched passion for believing and defending it.

    There are many ways schools can be more economical. For starters, they don’t need swimming pools and multimillion dollar athletic fields and a parking slot for every student. I know activity fees are detested by many parents but it’s a fair way to distribute some of the costs over the user base rather than have the taxing district absorb all of it.

    We pay for school buses yet they cross town half full because little Johnny and Suzi don’t want to be caught dead riding one. No, they’ll pay high fees for a parking pass and the schools are happy to be forever expanding parking areas to accommodate them.

    Have you ever helped out in the cafeteria? If so you’d be hard pressed not to notice the incredible waste there.

    One other area that would save small fortunes for the schools – curb the vandalism. Maybe if parents made as much as a token effort to teach little Johnny and Suzi to have respect for people and property the schools wouldn’t have to spend so much money merely trying to maintain property at status quo.

    Similarly, if your kid doesn’t play nicely in the sandbox, instead of ragging on the teacher or administrative staff, why don’t you try to support their efforts and incorporate a little discipline at home when it’s needed?

    I’m all for education but I don’t think we achieve it just by increasing how much we spend on it.

  8. Jon b Goode says:

    The schools spend too much money on administration. Six figures for a principal that can’t even balance a budget, come on.

  9. NoMoreMoney says:

    I am constantly amazed how the solution to every public sector problem is to raise taxes. Does anyone really believe that the problem of poor education in Minnesota (or the nation for that matter) is due to a lack of money? We toss trillions of dollars at education nationwide and look at the results? This country has serious issues with education and they are not all due to lack of money.

    Regarding local, have the schools asking for more money today demonstrated that they spend our money with the greatest of care? Have they earned our trust with the money they received last year? We know they want more, but do they actually deserve more?

    I understand that schools are asking for additional money for ‘technology upgrades’? I have run into teenagers at the local Target Check-Out register that cannot tell the difference between a lemon and a lime. What kind of technology do the schools need to solve that problem?

    Wanting more money today for a “possible” shortfall is beyond belief. Do the schools really expect the taxpayer to cut their income to fund this objective? My income has dropped this past year and my expensives have risen. I’m tapped out. I cannot approve a tax hike for a ‘possible’ shortfall. For those of you who want to fund this ‘insurance’, feel free to write out a check.

    Let’s have the schools open their books and account for every dollar they get today. I’d like to see where/how our tax money is spent. If my taxes are paying the bills, I think i am entitled for a complete accounting.

    Make no mistake, the school is only part of the educational equation and can only do so much. The student and parent have a part to play. That’s another conversation.

    Bottom line for me is that the schools in Minnesota need to earn Tax Payer trust that they spend the billions we give them wisely. Till that happens, no more money.

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