ISD 834 School Board approves putting levy request on November ballot

The Stillwater Area School District board of education has voted to put a levy referendum on the Nov. 5 ballot.

The vote, taken at the board’s Aug. 8 meeting, was unanimous.

According to a news release from the district, the decision to place the request to increase the district’s operating levy on the ballot came after two years of planning and community input, then months of discussion regarding recent changes in state legislation.

The current operating levy, set at $11 million, would be increased by $5 million if approved by voters. That represents a 5 percent increase in the district’s budget and would be the first time in 10 years that the community would provide increased funding to public schools other than covering inflation.

The existing levy will be expiring in 2014.

“We’ve worked hard to provide a fiscally conservative and thoughtful levy proposal,” Superintendent Corey Lunn stated in the news release.

“In the past two years we spent countless hours with community members and staff, reviewing our budget, discussing community values and analyzing changes in state law to ensure we were presenting a clear proposal that meets students’ needs while providing the best value to our taxpayers.”

According to the news release, the increased funding would provide financial stability for District 834 by supporting current programs and avoiding more budget cuts. The release also states the increased funding would add secured school entrances and quick response systems, expand anti-bullying and mental health initiatives and recreate how students learn to better prepare them for their future.

The typical home valued at $250,000 would see about a $14 per month increase if the levy were approved, according to the news release. That increase is smaller than the district initially anticipated, the release states.

If the levy does not pass, roughly 105 budget reductions would be made, and the result would be increased class sizes, implementation of a four-day school week, reduced band, orchestra and music programs, and the closing or restructuring of an elementary school.

For more information on the levy, visit www.stillwater.k12.mn.us/levy2013.

— Alex Holmquist

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