Voters in the Anoka-Hennepin School District renewed a referendum levy Nov. 8 to provide approximately $48 million in general operating funds each year for 10 years. Unofficial election results indicate the levy renewal passed with 63 percent of the vote, 20,698 to 12,139.
Voters also approved a levy for technology. This generates $3 million per year for 10 years beginning in 2012. The cost is $2.58 per month on the average ($180,000) home. Unofficial election results indicate the technology question passed with 50.6 percent of the vote, 16,580 to 16,184.
"We are grateful in that the public supports their schools," said School Board Chair Tom Heidemann. "We pledge to do the best we can to spend our money wisely and effectively and provide the best education we can for our students."
With district communities having been hit hard by home foreclosures and unemployment, Superintendent Dennis Carlson was very appreciative of the vote of support for students from area residents.
"We have hard working families who truly value education for the children of these communities," Carlson said. "Our families have always been supportive of our students."
The renewed levy will provide $1,044 per pupil, which is approximately $48 million a year. Passage of the levy will prevent layoffs that would have totaled 20 percent of the district's teaching staff. Without the renewal, the district would have explored closing five schools and increasing class sizes at all levels by an average of 10 students.
Voters also approved a levy for technology. This generates $3 million per year for 10 years beginning in 2012. The cost is $2.58 per month on the average ($180,000) home.
The funds will be used to provide technology for greater student and staff efficiency and to increase student learning and prepare students for college and career. Voters have not approved funding for technology since a bond sale in 1994.
"Technology today is essential to our students' current and future success," Carlson said. "Our students will benefit immediately from this investment in their education."
Voters rejected a third question to help prevent teacher layoffs if state funding does not come through. Unofficial election results indicate the this question failed by a vote of 17,990 against to 14,725 in favor.
Passage of the levy questions does not eliminate the district's financial challenges, however. Even with passage of the levy renewal, the district still faces an estimated $12 million budget deficit resulting from lack of a state funding increase to offset inflation and loss of revenue because of declining enrollment. The School Board will continue to work to close the budget gap.
The renewed levy will appear on the 2013 tax statements to help fund the 2013-14 school year. The levy for the technology question will appear on next year's tax statements.