Board approves operating levy question, sets community referendum and school board vote for November 7
Aug. 15, 2017 -- At its Aug. 14 meeting, the Edina School Board voted unanimously to authorize a special election on Tuesday, Nov. 7 for the community to vote on a ballot question for an operating levy. The levy referendum will coincide with the general election in which voters will elect four school board members, each for a term of four years.
The operating levy question seeks to renew the expiring operating levy and increase the district’s local revenue authority to provide needed operating funds for day-to-day expenses such as teachers, curriculum, transportation and utilities. The district’s current voter-approved operating levy, which generates $1,412.46 per pupil or approximately $13 million in local funding for the district, will expire at the end of the 2017-18 school year. The proposed operating levy set forth by the School Board seeks to renew and increase the district’s levy authority in a two-step process over the next 10 years.
In the first step, for taxes payable in 2018 and 2019, the district is seeking levy authority of $1857.46 per pupil, an increase of $445 per pupil over the current operating levy. In the second step, for taxes payable in 2020 through 2027, the levy would increase to $2,075.07 per pupil. Each year the levy would be adjusted for inflation according the state inflationary index. If approved, the proposed new referendum revenue authorization would be applicable for a total of 10 years.
The District seeks to renew and increase the district’s current operating levy in order to sustain the quality of educational programs expected by the Edina community, according to Superintendent John Schultz. “I have always known Edina to be a high-quality, destination school district. This has become even more clear to me since taking over leadership responsibilities in July,” Schultz said. “Yet in order to address the persistent budget gap, provide the quality learning experience our students need, and be mindful of our taxpayers’ investment, we feel this two-step approach to our operating levy renewal is the most fiscally sound.”
If approved, the district estimates that for the average value home in Edina, property owners would see a tax increase in the first year of $182 per year, or about $15 per month. When the levy authority increases in 2020, homeowners would see an additional increase of $5 per month, or about $60 per year.
At Monday’s meeting, School Board Vice Chair Sarah Patzloff said that the two-step approach of the referendum question serves to help address the annual budget shortfall while also showing a willingness to understand the burden on local taxpayers. “We know that any levy has an impact on our local taxpayers,” said Patzloff, “but we also must seek additional revenue when we can to ensure we are able to continue offering the programs and services our students need. This levy will not allow us to add programs and services, but it will allow us to maintain what we have, and that’s important.”
District officials noted that additional information and details about what the operating levy supports, tax impact and voter information will be shared through various district communication channels, including both print and digital publications, over the next three months in an effort to inform voters on the proposal. Additional information can be found on the district website at www.edinaschools.org.