Red Wing School Board approves two-question Nov. ballot

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The Red Wing School Board approved an operating levy referendum be put to a vote this fall. At the board meeting Monday, July 17, members discussed the pair of questions that will be on the November ballot.

The referendum, if passed by voters, would revoke the current revenue authorization of $811.64 per pupil and increase it to $1,235.64. A second ballot question would ask voters to OK an additional $500-per-pupil increase to the district's general education revenue.

"The reason we need this is we're not getting funded like we should from the state," Board member Steve Anderson said. "Without this, we're looking at million-dollar cuts."

Jackie Paradis, the district's business manager, said the estimated total tax impact for a $150,000 home in Red Wing would be $6.33 per month or $75.99 a year for Question 1 and an additional $7.47 per month or $89.58 per year for Question 2. If both questions pass and local optional revenue is fully levied, Paradis said the total tax impact would be $14.63 per month, or $165.57 per year.

The proposed referendum would be applicable for 10 years and increase each year by the state-determined rate of inflation. The additional revenue would go to finance school operations, as stated in the resolution.

For several months, the School Board and the Finance Committee have weighed in on the need for a new operating levy referendum, debated the number of ballot questions and the timeline.

If voters approve only the first question, Paradis said the district could be looking at a negative fund balance by 2021. She said, by bringing the two questions to voters in 2017, the district will have a second chance in 2018 if one or both questions fail.

The current operating levy ends in 2019.

"It's our opportunity as the people to support what we decide to be the most important things in our communities and for our state," Board member Mike Christensen said. "Educating our students is the most important thing to secure our future."

The ballot questions will read:

School District Question 1

Revoking Existing Referendum Revenue Authorization; Approving New Authorization The board of Independent School District No. 256 (Red Wing Public Schools) has proposed to revoke the school district's existing operating referendum revenue authorization of $ 811.64 per pupil and to replace that authorization with a new authorization of $1,235.64 per pupil. The school district's actual referendum revenue authorization for any year shall not exceed the statutory maximum for that year. The proposed new referendum revenue authorization would increase each year by the rate of inflation and be applicable for ten years, beginning with taxes payable in 2018, unless otherwise revoked or reduced as provided by law.

Shall the school district's existing operating referendum revenue authorization be revoked and the increase in revenue proposed by the board of Independent School District No. 256 be approved?

School District Question 2

Approval of Additional School District Referendum Revenue Authorization

The board of Independent School District No. 256 (Red Wing Public Schools) has proposed to increase its general education revenue by $500.00 per pupil. The school district's actual referendum revenue authorization for any year shall not exceed the statutory maximum for that year. The proposed referendum revenue authorization would increase each year by the rate of inflation and be applicable for ten years, beginning with taxes payable in 2018, unless otherwise revoked or reduced as provided by law.

If School District Question 1 is approved, shall the increase in the revenue proposed by the board of Independent School District No. 256 also be approved?

The general election in Minnesota is on Nov. 7.