Enrollment Growth & School Funding Needs

For the past several months, Eastern Carver County Schools has been looking at ways to manage growing enrollment, aging buildings, budget pressures and academic needs. Staff and the School Board have reviewed the hard work of the Facility Task Force, used community surveys and listening sessions to gather public input, and analyzed budget projections. Following that review, the School Board unanimously approved placing three school funding requests on the Nov. 5 ballot. If all three questions are approved by voters, the tax increase on the average homeowner would be $36 per month ($350,000 value home). If any of the questions do not pass, there would be negative impacts, such as continued crowding, increased class sizes, deteriorating facilities, teacher layoffs, continued cuts to academic programs and services, cuts to technology equipment and support, and limited updates to school security systems.


  • Fall 2018  A study of all buildings owned by Eastern Carver County Schools was completed by a set of engineering and construction firms.
  • Oct. 2018  Facility Task Force formed to review facility needs and develop recommendations for the school board.
  • Jan. 2019  Updated demographic study on enrollment growth completed by an outside firm projects exponential growth of district by 1,400, mostly elementary level students, in the next five years.
  • Jan.  Following four months of study, a task force brought a bond referendum recommendation to the school board to fund a new elementary school and larger bus garage, as well as deferred maintenance across the district.
  • Jan. – May  Budget discussions with staff and School Board.
  • Feb. – May  Feedback gathered on all funding needs through community surveys, staff input, School Board discussions and a listening session.
  • May 20  Legislative session ended.
  • Jun. 24  School board approved Nov. 2019 referendum.
  • July-Nov.  Referendum information shared with the community.
  • Sep. 20  Absentee voting begins.
  • Nov. 5, 2019  Election Day


When a school district needs additional funding to operate, maintain or build schools, they must get voter approval through a referendum. Bond funds can only be used for construction and renovations. Operating levies are a legally separate funding stream that voters can approve to support classrooms and educational programs. In 2013 and 2015, our residents approved funding to support our growing district. See how these past referendum funds have been used.

Middle school band students

Question 1: Increase the Operating Levy

An operating levy increase of $550 per student or approximately $5.6 million per year to continue the strong academic preparation of our students, prevent cuts to programs and services, maintain class sizes and manage growing enrollment. Question 1 must be approved in order for Question 2 to pass.
Without an operating levy increase, expenses will continue to outpace revenue and the district will need to make budget cuts moving forward. A budget cost containment proposal was presented to the School Board in the spring of 2019.
Why Now? For years, state funding has not kept pace with inflation or increasing costs, and does not close the funding gap for our special education services. School district leaders have done a good job of keeping expenses down while cutting the budget by $3.5 million over the past three years, but given these additional pressures on the district’s operating budget – and without additional revenue – more cuts will be necessary.
Operating levy per student chart
MN Per Student Funding chart

Question 2: Building Bonds Request

A bond request for $111.7 million to build a new elementary school on district-owned land in Chaska, address deferred maintenance and building repair projects across the district, and build a larger bus garage. These building projects are based on the recommendations of the Facility Task Force. Question 2 can pass only if Question 1 is approved.
Why Now? Our district keeps growing, and our buildings are aging. Additional space is needed for more students and to keep class sizes from increasing. Taking care of deferred maintenance across the district would help protect the community’s investment in our schools. And our bus garage only holds half our buses – which increases maintenance costs.

student with chromebook

Question 3: Security & Technology Levy Renewal

A no-tax increase renewal of our existing security and technology levy, which would provide approximately $4.4 million per year for 10 years to support school security systems, technology for students and staff, and related professional development and support.
Why Now? In 2013, voters approved a capital projects levy for security and technology. The levy provides funding to improve school security, maintain technology infrastructure and put learning tools in the hands of students. This six-year levy is due to expire, but that requires voter approval. Renewing the levy will not increase taxes to residents. Continued investments in security help keep our schools safe. Technology allows the district to enhance and enrich learning – providing engaging, relevant and personalized experiences.
security badge
security and technology spending per student