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Viewpoint: Operating levy funds relate to student learning

Karsten Anderson

Karsten Anderson is the Superintendent for the Red Wing Public schools.

Red Wing Public Schools is holding a two-question operating levy referendum on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. Passage of the first question would increase school funding by $424 per student. Passage of the second question, which is contingent on the first one passing, would increase school funding by another $500 per student.

This column is intended to explain how this additional money would be used.

First, it is important to understand the difference between a building referendum and an operating levy referendum. Proceeds from the April 2016 building referendum must be spent on construction projects. By law, proceeds can not be used for the general operations of the school district.

Like most school districts in Minnesota, our school district relies on a voter-approved operating levy to supplement federal, state and other local revenue sources. The operating levy supports the school district's general fund, which pays for nearly all activities related to student learning. For example, the general fund pays for the following:

• K-12 teaching and paraprofessional positions, including those for courses in English, math, science, social studies, vocational subjects (such as agriculture, family and consumer science, industrial technology, and business), visual arts and music, and world languages;

• Targeted support for struggling students, including those who qualify for special education;

• Professional development;

• Curriculum, including textbooks and digital resources;

• Student computers and other technology resources; and

• Sports and activities programs.

As we have done in the recent past, we will likely continue to make right-sizing decisions due to declining enrollment. Increasing the operating levy referendum, however, will minimize the need for future reductions.

Additional information about the referendum is available at www.rwps.org. Please contact me at klanderson@rwps.org or 651-385-4502 if you have questions about the upcoming referendum or any school-related issue.

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