Mounds View one of many school districts looking to voters this fall

Updated: September 05, 2019 06:48 PM

The new media center at Island Lake Elementary in the Mounds View School District still has books boxed up waiting for little hands and minds to explore them.

Finishing touches are still being done on the redesign, approved by voters two years ago through a bond referendum.

"We went with the open concept design ... to be able to open them [schools] up and think forward, and just be really intentional with the space is really amazing," said Principal Kristi Abbott.

The bond money goes specifically to add space to school buildings.

A levy is for learning, and this fall the district will ask voters for a 10-year $12 million per year operating levy to continue programs at its 13 schools.

"On a median valued home in our district of $275,000, that's $28 a month," said School Board Chairperson Jonathan Weinhagen.

The district hasn't asked for an operational levy increase in 13 years, and if the levy passes, the district says it's done for the decade, meaning they won't come back to voters with a levy ask for 10 years.

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

"Our taxpayers have some election fatigue, it feels like every couple years we're out with our hands out looking for a tax increase through a levy," said Weinhagen.

"You can't predict with certainty, what we can do is look at the past 13 years at the administration and work of the board and how they've been able to meet the needs of the community, we really did put our pencils to paper and looked at and assessed the needs of the district for this span of time, and I'm really confident done for a decade is a committment we as a board can make to our district and to our community," he added.

Voters KSTP talked with were mixed on that message.

"I think in general it's a very good idea because referendums are asked for almost every election cycle, and if they never promise to stop asking, how do we know if their budgeting is long-term," said one man.

"I find it hard to believe, there are a lot of things that can change in that amount of time," said another.

The district is predicting another 1,000 students will start school in the district in the coming decade. If the levy fails, the district said it will have to start looking at increasing class sizes and cutting programs.

Upcoming special elections

Mounds View isn't the only metro school district asking voters to approve a referendum in November.

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Jessica Miles

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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