Shakopee Public Schools Funding Request Will Be on November 3, 2020 Ballot
July 20, 2020 - The Shakopee School Board unanimously approved asking voters for local financial support through an operating levy request on the November 3, 2020 ballot. The Board also approved $2 million in budget cuts over the next two school years that are needed even if the levy passes. In a related decision, the School Board approved an additional $5.4 million in budget cuts that will be necessary in 2021-22 if voters do not approve the levy request.
The ballot question asks voters whether to approve a phased-in levy increase that would increase school funding over a four-year period, with the resulting tax increase phased-in over those four years as well. There would be no net school tax increase in the first year (2021) due to building debt the school district is paying off. The decision to put the operating levy on the ballot was based on several months of discussions, community input and review of various options.
The operating levy request is in response to a number of financial pressures that will result in expenses exceeding revenue starting in the 2020-21 school year - challenging the District’s ability to maintain the quality education students deserve and the community expects. These pressures include state funding that has not kept pace with inflation, unfunded mandates and the lack of a voter-approved operating levy for additional local support.
District leaders recommended, and the School Board agreed, that a balanced approach combining both a levy request and budget cuts was a fiscally responsible, conservative and prudent approach to addressing the financial pressures in the current economic environment.
If voters approve the levy, the operating levy funding would be used to:
- Maintain quality programming and learning opportunities for students
- Attract, retain, and fairly compensate high-quality teachers
- Build a path to long-term financial stability
The vast majority of Minnesota school districts have locally approved operating levies, providing important financial support for their schools. Operating levies provide critical funding for classrooms, instruction and other operating costs. Shakopee Public Schools currently has no voter-approved operating levy. The last time local voters approved an operating levy increase was more than a decade ago. In 2015, voters approved bond funds to expand Shakopee High School, but bond funds can only be used for buildings and not to cover operating costs.
“We strive to be as transparent as possible with our community about our finances,” said Board Chair Kristi Peterson. “By asking our community to vote on this funding request, our residents will decide if they want to support the quality of education being provided for our students, or if additional cuts are what they’d prefer - resulting in increased class sizes across the district and program cuts.”
If voters approve the levy, the average homeowner ($280,000 value home) would see school tax increases averaging $4 per month over the first four years of the phased-in levy, with no tax increase for the last six years of the levy. Specifically, the school funding provided - and estimated monthly school tax increase for the average homeowner ($280,000) - would be as follows:
- +$400 per student in 2021; no tax increase (in fact, homeowners would see a decrease of about $6 per month due to building debt being paid off)
- +$300 per student in 2022, $12 per month tax increase
- +$200 per student in 2023, $8 per month tax increase
- +$100 per student in 2024, $4 per month tax increase