Board approves May 11 vote on tech levy and bond issue
At a special meeting on Feb. 16, the Edina School Board approved ballot language and the date for a 2021 technology levy and bond issue. On May 11, voters will be asked to consider a 10-year, $7M technology levy to replace the current expiring levy, along with a20-year, $7M bond issue for expansion of bus garage facilities and traffic control improvements at two schools.
The current technology levy will expire in June 2022. It supports all aspects of technology and associated staffing in the district, including:
- Curricular: Hardware, software and licensing for students and teachers
- Information systems: Infinite Campus (student data), Schoology and SeeSaw (learning platforms), employee data and recruitment
- Infrastructure: Network, firewalls, phone systems, bandwidth
- Safety and security: Security cameras, door lock and alarm systems
- Staffing: Media Specialists, Help Desk, Digital Learning Specialists, Tech Specialists
- Increase in instructional software costs
The $7 million technology levy on the May 11 ballot is an increase of $500,000 over the expiring $6.5 million tech levy. Steve Buettner, director of District Media and Technology Services, said an increase is needed to keep pace with increasing costs and to fund changing needs, such as instructional software licensing, and the growing need for adaptive technology.
“This increase in the levy is good stewardship of the investment in technology the district has already made,” said Buettner. “It will maintain the current level of technological excellence and ensure we have the right technological tools available when needed.”
The tax amount of the levy per resident is based on property value. The estimated tax impact of the potential levy increase of $500,000 is $15 annually for a home valued at $400,000, and $24 annually for a home valued at $600,000. Compared to surrounding school districts, the amount of Edina’s current technology levy is in the mid-range, as it is less than Hopkins, Bloomington and Eden Prairie, and more than Minnetonka, Richfield and St. Louis Park.
In a separate ballot question, the district will also ask voters to approve a $7M bond issue. This funding is earmarked for operational improvements at the transportation facility, at two elementary schools and a small amount at Valley View Middle School, said John Toop, director of Business Services.
Currently the district contracts for 14 special education bus routes. Over time, the district plans to purchase additional buses to be able to provide all special education transportation, which would represent a savings of $140,000 - $280,000 per year when fully implemented. Additional storage space at the bus garage will be needed for additions to the fleet.
The bond would also fund needed improvements to the bus loop and parking at Creek Valley Elementary, and improve the parking area at Countryside Elementary and Valley View Middle School.These improvements will enhance safety and traffic flow for the schools.
The estimated tax impact of the issue of 20-year bonds is $6 per year for residents with a home value of $400,000, and $10 per year for residents with a home value of $600,000.