At least 30 school districts expected to ask voters for money this fall

Updated: August 01, 2019 06:08 PM

While students have been enjoying summer, dozens of Minnesota school districts have been busy crunching numbers.

From Belgrade to Blue Earth and Walker to White Bear Lake, so far, at least 30 school districts will ask voters for money this fall. That money may be for bonds, building projects, or levies, which cover schools' operating expenses.


"In the old days, levies were used to get special things, like specialists and other additional things, but today it's about running business everyday," said Bernie Burnham, vice president with Education Minnesota.

"Funding education is critical to the success of our state, if we don't do it, and educate our children, and in turn help our communities, we are going to be lacking in the things we need for the future," Burnham said.

In recent years, more metro referenda have passed compared to those going to voters in out-state Minnesota.

"Are these going to be tough for rural Minnesota this fall? I think it's tough for every district because you have to tell your story," said Gary Amoroso, executive director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators.

The story for many districts is similar: the money to fund education isn't keeping up with the rising costs of inflation.

"We're a people business, a business that buys materials and services and supplies, and all those things are going up, so if you're still bringing in the same number of dollars or not even getting an inflationary increase from year-to-year, that creates a challenge," Amoroso said.

One bright spot for districts: 2019 isn't a general election year.

"When you have a general election, a school issue can become lost and it's difficult at times to really understand what the issue is, but when a school district has a bond or a levy question on the ballot, and there is nothing else, that is the focus of your community, that is the focus of everybody that's going to vote," Amoroso explained.

If history is any indicator, the questions on the ballot this November have a high likelihood of being approved.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS looked back at the results from 2017, which wasn't a general election year either. That year, more than 80 percent of the operating levies on the November ballot passed and nearly 70 percent of the bond referendums were approved by voters.

If history is any indicator, the questions on the ballot this November have a high likelihood of being approved.

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Jessica Miles

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