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Group formed to oppose St. Paul school levy

A new organization has registered to oppose the St. Paul School District’s proposed levy that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The district proposes to continue a $30 million levy that is set to expire, and then add another $9 million a year for “enhanced learning with technology.” Taxpayers would pay $32 million of the annual cost and the state would contribute $7 million, the district says.

Greg Copeland, chair of the St. Paul Republican City Committee, formed the “St. Paul Votes No 30% Levy Tax Hike!” organization to oppose the levy.

He questions the board’s plan to combine the two parts of the proposed levy into one question on the ballot.

“The SPPS Superintendent [Valeria Silva] recommended, and the Board on a 6 to 1 vote, deliberately chose to place a single  question on the ballot,  thus forcing an All or Nothing Ballot Question upon voters, effectively acting to deny voters the choice of two questions,” Copeland says in his campaign material.

The existing $646 per pupil levy funds all-day kindergarten, a preschool program and smaller math and science classes and the $175 increase will fund a new technology plan, the Pioneer Press said.

If the levy does not pass, district officials have said there will be deep cuts if the levy fails.

Copeland also questions why the district says 364 teachers would be laid off if the levy is voted down but doesn’t mention administrator layoffs. He writes:

“The threatened cuts singling out 364 teachers, and not one reduction in any administrative or management staff at headquarters in a system with over 5,300 employees, where only 58% are classroom teachers, tells us all we need to know about this School Board and the Superintendent’s priorities. In St. Paul there is already a lack of commitment to direct allocation of  current dollars to the classroom for student instruction.”

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