It won’t be just politicians on many ballots Tuesday: 82 Minnesota school districts are also looking for extra money from voters.
Some of those school levies are for building or repair projects, says MPR’s Tom Weber, but most are asking for money to pay school operating expenses — to preserve programs or restore cuts.
Because of the tough economic climate, other districts have held off taking their financial problems directly to voters. But for many, the situation is so dire that they’re taking the risk now.
Weber focuses on two districts, Moorhead and Carlton:
…Carlton Superintendent Peter Haapala has been blunt with area residents about the district’s financial situation.
“Essentially, we’re looking at the survival of the district,” said Haapala, who became superintendent over the summer.
Haapala hopes voters will approve a levy that would increase property taxes by about $243 a year on a $150,000 house.
“Without the referendum passing, we’ll be in a very tough situation in order to continue,” he said. “We’d have to make some very drastic reductions if the referendum doesn’t pass.”
And in Moorhead:
Superintendent Lynne Kovash said districts like hers also face the fact that even voter approval won’t solve all the budget problems.
“Even if this passes, you still have financial concerns we still have to confront,” Kovash said. “So it’s not that we’d sit back and say ‘this passes’ and business as usual. We’d still have to look at changing some of our systems.”
The Moorhead levy would increase yearly property taxes on a $150,000 home by about $269 dollars raising $5.25 million its first year. Kovash said one of the things a ‘yes’ vote would allow her to do is return the band and choir instructor jobs at Moorhead High to full-time positions.