After more than a year of review, planning and discussion, the school board of Roseville Area Schools unanimously decided to bring requests for increased school funding to district voters to support student needs and school operating costs.
The board’s decision means that two ballot questions will be on the November 2, 2021, ballot: one to renew the district’s existing operating levy and a second question to increase that levy. Operating levies provide additional funding for critical school operations, such as teachers, classroom supplies, instructional materials, other staff and more. The vast majority (69%) of Minnesota school districts—including Roseville Area Schools—rely on operating levies to help fund their schools.
If both ballot questions are approved by voters, the funds would be used to address class sizes, invest in student mental health and social-emotional needs, maintain academic programs, expand career pathways to better prepare students for various careers after graduation, and help maintain financial stability.
If voters do not approve both requests, there would be significant financial repercussions, including reductions in educational and co-curricular programming, staff reductions, rising class sizes, and fewer supports for students. The district’s financial health would deteriorate, including a lack of contingency funds for emergencies as expenses continue to outpace revenue.
“As elected officials, our accountability is to the community, and we are 100% supportive of these funding requests,” said Board Chair Mike Boguszewski. “Given our current context, this funding is absolutely necessary to maintain our programs and for district survival.”
Some reasons why financial pressures are increasing:
- For nearly two decades, state funding has not kept pace with inflation or increasing educational costs.
- Critical special education programs cost the district nearly $10 million more than it receives each year from the state and federal governments, putting additional pressure on the district’s operating budget.
- Over the last eight years, we have cut our operating budget by $8 million, resulting in teacher cuts, increased class sizes and cuts to student and classroom support and administration.
- While the federal COVID relief dollars for schools will help cover pandemic-related costs, they are one-time funds with specific rules and timelines, and they will not help with our long-term budget sustainability.
Some facts about Roseville Area Schools’ operating levy:
- Our current voter-approved operating levy will expire if not renewed by voters in November 2021, which would result in a loss of $8 million per year.
- We have not asked our community to increase the operating levy since 2006.
- We have one of the lowest voter-approved operating levies of neighboring and comparable districts. This results in less funding to support school operations, classroom materials, teachers and support staff.
- New data from the Minnesota Department of Education shows we receive nearly $300 less per student in voter-approved operating levy funds than the average of the 42 metro area school districts. This results in more than $2 million less in local revenue each year for Roseville Area Schools.
- Although voters approved bond funds for building construction four years ago, those funds cannot be used to help operate schools. Bonds are for buildings, levies are for learning.
Watch the 15-minute presentation made by Superintendent Aldo Sicoli at the June 22 Board meeting. Learn more about our financial context. If you have questions, or would like to share comments with us about operating referendum, you may leave us a message at 651-635-1651.