Eastern Carver County Voters Approve Tech Levy;
Operating Levy and Bond Referendum Fail
On November 5, voters approved one of three referendum questions for Eastern Carver County Schools. The third question, a renewal of the school security and technology levy, was approved by 54.5 percentage of voters. The first question, an increase in the operating levy, failed with 49.1 percentage of voters. The second question, a bond referendum for deferred maintenance, a bus garage facility, and a new elementary school, failed with 47.8 percent of voters.
The failure of the operating referendum (question one) means the district will begin immediately to plan for $4.5 million in budget reductions. Superintendent Clint Christopher will be meeting with principals and district administrative staff to review immediate steps and start planning for the 2020-2021 school year.
The bond referendum that would have provided a new school, a bus garage, and deferred maintenance also failed. The district still lacks classroom space for a growing community. In the coming weeks, the School Board will look at boundary options and grade reconfigurations in order to accommodate the number of students in the district. The bond referendum would also have provided over $60 million in deferred maintenance needs to address aging and deteriorating facilities.
Unofficial election results by precinct can be found below. Election results are unofficial until they are canvassed by the School Board at its Nov. 14 regular meeting.
If any of the questions do not pass, there would be negative impacts, such as continued crowding, increased class sizes, deteriorating facilities, teacher and staff layoffs, continued cuts to academic programs and services, cuts to technology equipment and support, and limited updates to school security systems.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- The district is projected to grow by 1,400 students in the next five years, with a majority at the elementary level. This equates to adding one classroom of students per month. The district is already at capacity, or close to it, in most elementary schools. Adequate funding and classroom space helps maintain class sizes to support personalized learning for all students.
- State funding has not kept pace with inflation for more than 15 years. If it had, we would have received more than $6 million in additional funding last year. That gap is projected to get even larger. Critical special education programs cost the district millions more than it receives each year from the state, putting additional pressure on the district’s operating budget.
- The median age of district schools is 34 years. Much like a home, as school buildings age, their maintenance needs increase. Addressing deferred maintenance – such as roofs, parking lots and heating/ventilation equipment – sustains optimal student learning environments and protects the community’s investment in its schools.
- The current bus garage is only half the size needed to properly house and maintain district buses. A larger garage would address space and maintenance needs while making bus service more reliable for students. Coupled with the district decision to bring bus services in-house, the new bus garage will support better service to families, save money, and take better care of our own assets.
- Funding from the district’s security and technology levy has supported secure school entrances, technology infrastructure, and learning devices for both students and staff. This levy is due to expire, which would eliminate funding used to maintain these security and technology systems.