Mounds View School Board seeks levy renewal

Joshua Nielsen
Review staff

The Mounds View School Board unanimously approved a resolution to put a levy renewal referendum on the ballot in November.

The district has been receiving $11.5 million annually from a voter approved property tax levy, which began in 2006 and will expire at the end of 2014.

If the levy is renewed it would begin in 2015 and continue through 2023.

District 621 Finance Director Carole Nielsen told the board that renewal of the levy would not increase taxes from their current levels.

She did note, however, that changes state lawmakers made to the pupil accounting system could have voters thinking otherwise.

Under the current pupil accounting system, students are weighted differently at just about every grade level, with elementary students weighted least and high school students weighted most.

When the new pupil accounting system takes place during the 2014-15 school year, students attending public schools in the state will be weighted into four different categories in grades K-12.

According to a recent Minnesota Department of Education report, students attending half-day kindergarten will be weighted at .55 of funding for one full pupil, all-day kindergarteners at .70, students in grades 1-6 at 1.0, and students in 7-12 at 1.2.

Some voters may think the district is seeking a levy increase, but Nielsen said this is not the case. The district is still seeking $11.5 million per year, but instead of a levy of $990 per-pupil being listed on the ballot, voters will see $1,024.35 on Nov. 5.

“In essence (the change) decreases the per pupil numbers,” Nielsen said.

“By placing a levy renewal of $1,024.35 per pupil on the ballot for approval in November, we’re asking voters to renew their commitment with no tax increase from the current level as a result of the renewal,” Nielsen said.

She added that tax levy dollars have played a significant role in maintaining class sizes at current levels and have allowed the district to maintain comprehensive programs parents and residents expect for Mounds View students.

Nielsen said there are no revenue sources that could make up for a $11.5 million loss. 

She said the district would receive nearly $2 million over a two-year period due to an increase in the state’s General Education Fund, but that amount comes far short of making up for a $11.5 million annual decrease through a failed referendum.

According to a June 25 Mounds View Public Schools Budget Summary, the district receives 29 percent of its funding from local property taxes, 60 percent from the state, 4 percent from the Federal Government, and 7 percent from other local sources.

Joshua Nielsen can be reached at jnielsen@lillienews.com or 651-748-7824.

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