Henning School District seeks extension of operating levyPublished 11:03am Tuesday, October 4, 2011
School district levies in Henning are set to expire soon. The district is asking residents, on Nov. 1, to continue a financial commitment that voters made to the district a decade ago when the original operating levies were first passed.
“The school district is not asking for an increase,” said School Supt. Dean Soutor.
By voting yes, a resident is agreeing to continue school property taxes at their current rates. If renewed by the voters, the school district will continue to use the funds for learning and program expenditures.
District voters passed a $400 per student levy referendum in 2001 and a $600 per student levy referendum in 2002. The proposal for this year is to combine the two into a continuation of $1,000 per student for the next 10 years.
“The operating levy dollars are locally raised and used at the local level for the students in the Henning School District,” said Soutor. “One advantage of the levy passage is that local tax dollars stay in the community.”
He said the district’s priority is to keep the same level of programming and course offerings for Henning students.
The public school offers a variety of electives for high school students and continues to maintain a priority of smaller class sizes at kindergarten and first grade. Without the funding, both electives and class sizes will be in jeopardy, said Soutor, since the school district would have less money to spend.
The first of three informational meetings was held Monday, Oct. 3. The other two will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 10 at the Henning School Library and 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24 at the Vining Community Center.
Henning School Board members, as noted on informational flyers, say they believe that children are the greatest resource. They say the district has made great strides to improve financial status and long-term stability.
Continuation of the current funding level will assist in providing a quality education to Henning students. Budget cuts will be inevitable without the renewal of this levy, said board members.
In Minnesota, seasonal recreational property owners are not taxed on those properties for operating levies. State law requires that farmers pay property taxes for an operating levy on only the house, garage, and one surrounding acre. Farmers do not pay on their other agricultural land and buildings for an operating levy.
An operating levy differs from a bond referendum in that bonds are for buildings while an operating levy is for learning. Funds from a bond issue that’s approved by voters is used to pay for building construction. Those funds cannot be used for operating expenses.
The Henning School District has made a number of cost saving reductions in the past two years. It has reduced administrative and custodial time and costs. To save money, the school district was forced to increase class sizes and eliminate two full-time elementary teaching positions.
The district has frozen budgets for supplies and equipment in the past two years. The cost savings in staff and other expenditures are expected save over $250,000 per year.