The Anoka-Hennepin School District will ask voters three questions regarding its levies on the November ballot, one of which would include a tax increase if approved.
The questions include:
• Operating levy renewal, which would not involve a tax increase.
• Capital levy renewal, which would not involve a tax increase.
• Additional operating levy to support every student, which would require a tax increase.
On June 28 the School Board unanimously approved the measure to put all three questions on the ballot.
If the capital levy is renewed, taxes will start being collected in 2022 for the 2022-2023 school year. The operating levy and additional ask wouldn’t be collected until 2023 for the 2023-2024 school year, Chief Financial Officer Michelle Vargas said.
“It’s common when it’s that large of an amount to get out there a year early so you don’t have a loss in programming,” Vargas said.
The first question asks voters to renew and extend the $34.5 million operating levy, which was last renewed in 2012. This levy accounts for more than 9% of the district’s general fund, Superintendent David Law said.
Renewing the operating levy would not result in a tax increase for voters. The current tax impact is $356 a year for a $250,000 home, or about $30 a month.
Discontinuing the operating levy would mean the district would need to make drastic cuts to make up for lost revenue.
Losing the extra funding would result in changing middle and high school class schedules from seven periods a day to six, which would mean students would enroll in 12 fewer classes over the course of their high school careers.
The existing levy also provides students the ability to enroll in smaller elective classes that may not be as popular. Without the funding, those classes would likely need to be cut.
If the operating levy renewal isn’t approved, class sizes would increase by at least one student on average at any level, according to the district.
The second question seeks renewal of the $4.5 million capital levy, which provides technology to students, including audio-enhanced classrooms, computers, virtual learning and internet access.
If approved, the second question would not result in a tax increase for property owners either. The current tax impact is about $36 a year for a $250,000 house.
Without the capital levy renewal, these services would either not be offered, or the funding would be taken from something else, Law said.
If approved, the third question would result in a $120 annual tax increase on top of the current levies for a $250,000 home, according to the district. That’s $10 a month.
“We’re trying to be respectful of, ‘What’s the least amount we can ask and try to commit to the things we’ve promised?’” Law said.
The new operating levy, if approved, would help provide mental health and social-emotional support for students.
“[Social-emotional support] means more and more of our students are crossing the graduation stage, which is the reason I’m here,” School Board Member Nicole Hayes said.
The third question can’t be approved unless the first question is also approved.
“That’s very traditional, where if you’re going to do an additional ask, you’re going to fund the basics first,” Law said.
The special election will take place Nov. 2.