Residents in the Orono Public School District are being asked to make a decision on the district’s technology levy on Nov. 3.

Current technology funding comes from a technology levy that was first approved in 2002 and then renewed in 2011 for 10 years. The levy generates approximately $1.1 million for technology funding - or $344.54 per student - and is set to expire in 2021.

The district originally asked residents to renew the levy in 2019; however, the levy did not pass, with 55 percent of voters turning down the levy. The district then launched with information about the current technology referendum after asking residents why they voted yes or no.

If approved, the proposed levy would revoke the existing levy of 2.539 percent and replace it with a new authorization of 4.516 percent for the next 10 years. After receiving feedback from residents, the new authorization was reduced from 5.023 percent. The levy would raise approximately $1,988,720 for taxes the first year it’s levied.

The tax increase would place Orono in the middle when compared to neighboring districts. The $1,988,720 levy translates to $664 per-pupil, with Hopkins school district sitting at the top with $10,553.614 total levy and Westonka at the bottom with a $1,432,175 total levy.

Within Orono’s district, a median-value home at $400,000 would see a tax increase of $6.25 per month. A $200,000 home would see a $2.83 increase per month and a $1,000,000 home would see a $17.75 increase per month.

If the 2020 levy is voter-approved, the district plans to use the funds to update core technology infrastructure, “the platform on which the district operates.” This includes device and software tools; network and wireless systems, cybersecurity protections, building security, communications, student records and business management.

The fund would also be used for classroom equipment and support staff.

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