by Jeffrey Hage
Voters in the Monticello School District overwhelmingly defeated a school district request for $6 million in additional funding.
Now school district leaders will begin the process of making budget cuts next spring.
Monticello School District voters spoke- and they don’t want to see an increase in the school district taxes.
The $6 million operating levy failed in the Nov. 3 election with 63.5 percent of the voters casting a vote against giving the school district more operating money.
The operating levy failed 8,992 to 5,170.
The $6 million in operating levy funds represented $1,299 per student and was the maximum amount the school district could seek.
If the increase in the school district’s operating levy had been approved, revenue from the measure would have gone towards reducing class sizes, increasing student services such as mental health care, keeping up with technology advances, and enriching the School District curriculum. In August, Supt. Eric Olson highlighted a need to hire more teachers to reduce class sizes, increase the number of social workers district-wide, increase options for students in the area of career exploration, add bus routes to decrease the time students spend each day on a school bus, improving technology and problem-solving options for students; increasing support positions, and decreasing activity fees so all students can participate in activities and feel a part of the school community with no exclusions.
But with the operating levy request failing, the district will turn its attention to cuts in the school district budget. In August, Olson estimated those cuts to be in about the $1 million range.
Following the defeat of the operating levy, Olson addressed the stakeholders of the Monticello School District in an open letter.
“It is an unfortunate reality of our situation that there will be a need to make additional cuts this year as we try to increase our general fund balance to meet school board parameters,” Olson stated.
“However, I give you my word - we will continue to work daily to not just meet but to exceed the expectations of education across Monticello School District. We will continue to put time, money, and effort into solutions that allow us to continue our push toward becoming one of the premiere school districts in the state of Minnesota,” Olson continued.
Reach Jeff Hage at firstname.lastname@example.org