Levy option set at $1,111School funding could be boosted by more than $500 per pupil a year if Red Wing voters see fit.
By: Mike Longaecker, The Republican Eagle
School funding could be boosted by more than $500 per pupil a year if Red Wing voters see fit.
In September, voters will be presented with two referendum options, the second of which Red Wing School Board members approved Friday at a special meeting.
The higher funding proposal will be $1,111 per pupil, an option Supt. Stan Slessor said is aimed primarily at shrinking class sizes. The option also creates funding to replace a school social worker, focus on annual yearly progress testing and build curriculum-based technology.
“I think it would be a really healthy start and a positive change,” School Board member Neela Mollgaard said.
The board approved the first question on Monday. Under that levy option — considered a continuation of current services that accounts for rising future costs — students would be funded at $936 per pupil.
The current levy, which expires this year, is funded at about $600 per pupil.
The referendum will allow voters to approve or reject either of the amounts. If the levy fails, school officials said the district will face a $2.1 million budget shortfall for 2008-09.
However, if the September levy is voted down, School Board members can attempt another referendum 53 days later.
Both levy options would mean an increase in property taxes.
Under the first option, property taxes on a home valued at $150,000 would climb by $79 a year. The higher option would mean a $120 increase on the same home, according to district data.
School Board members say the challenge will be convincing taxpayers that better schools are worth he extra taxes.
“We can defend and support this level, too,” School Board Chairman Paul Kramp said of the $1,111 figure.
There is no guarantee new levy dollars will be allocated directly to specific items, though board members said that is their intention — and what they will use to sell the concept to the public.
“I think we can justify that tax impact,” Mollgaard said.
School Board members said they are required to ask more of local taxpayers because the state is not meeting its end of the funding bargain.
The state’s funding formula has not kept pace with the cost of inflation, which has led to more than $1 million in budget cuts over the past two years in Red Wing.