Area districts among many seeking leviesPublished 11:11am Thursday, September 29, 2011
School districts in Otter Tail County are among a third of Minnesota school districts intending to go to taxpayers for help this fall.
Half of those, according to the Minnesota School Boards Association, seek to renew existing levies. Others want to renew levies and ask for additional money.
Pelican Rapids school district voters, on Nov. 1, will decide on whether to approve $600 per pupil in additional operating revenue for the school system. The levy, if approved, would generate close to $731,000 per year for the next five years.
New York Mills voters will be asked to approve an additional $75 per student for the use of new technology. The levy would be for four years.
In the Henning school district, residents are being asked to renew a levy first approved 10 years ago.
“By voting yes, district residents would agree to continue school property taxes at their current rates,” said Henning School Supt. Dean Soutor.
He said the district is doing its best to hold down costs. An example is the budget freeze on supplies and equipment the past two years.
“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 School Boards Association spokesperson Greg Abbott.
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.”
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.