Failed Levies Leave Some School Districts In Limbo

STILLWATER, Minn. (WCCO) — Big cuts are expected for school districts with failed levies. The Stillwater School District now has a budget shortfall of $10,000,000 after voters denied the proposal Tuesday night.

Even if the levy had passed, the district would still owe $5,000,000. The district balanced the budget to make up for a $5,000,000 deficit, but hoped the community would contribute the other half.

Julie Casserly, who has a 4 year old daughter in the school district, said she’s concerned about the future there.

“Part of the reason we chose to live in this area was the excellent school district,” said Casserly.

Casserly can’t help but wonder if her daughter will stay in the Stillwater School District.

“I’m really concerned about the district, the district’s future,” said Casserly.

Failure to pass three levies means the district now has to balance a $10,000,000 budget shortfall.

“It is no doubt going to reach the classroom and affect what we do on a daily basis with teachers and students,” said Stillwater Superintendent Corey Lunn.

Lunn said a committee made of community members and staff will figure out how much to cut and where in the coming weeks.

Areas that could be affected include transportation, class sizes, athletic opportunities and staff reduction.

“We are going to do our best to minimize the impact, as best we can,” said Lunn.

Some believe asking taxpayers to chip in more probably played a role in the outcome. In Stillwater, the median home price is $300,000, which would have amounted to an extra $268 a year.

“It’s a hard decision when fewer people can pay extras,” said Jesse Hanawalt, whose son attends a Stillwater preschool.

Jesse Hanawalt was willing to take on that burden.

“I was able to vote, yesterday, and voted for the levy. Sorry to see it didn’t pass,” said Hanawalt.

His 4 year old son is in the preschool program, and has no plans to change districts.

“We want to stay involved with the public schools in Stillwater,” said Hanawalt.

An investment in a school doesn’t always have to deal with money. Stillwater wasn’t the only district with a levy failure.

Delano will have to balance an $800,000 shortfall, which will likely result in larger class sizes, a school board seat reduction and teacher layoffs.

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