On November 5th, 2019, the School District will be asking voters to consider two ballot questions.

On November 5th, 2019, the School District will be asking voters to consider two ballot questions. The first question will be to renew an operating levy that has been in place for several years. Our existing levy is for operating the schools and pool. With the ownership of the pool being taken over by the city, the district is seeking to renew for an additional ten years only for the portion of the operating levy that is for the operation of the school. This will result in a tax decrease from the current operating levy.

The reason the district is asking for a renewal on this operating levy is due to state aid not keeping up with inflation. Even as the total state aid for each student has continued to rise thanks to the hard work of our legislators, the buying power relative to these increases has not kept up with the inflationary costs of running schools. Adjusted for inflation, the buying power of our current dollars is actually less than in 2003 which has necessitated 97% of Minnesota School Districts to pass referendums to close this gap in funding.

Voters originally approved an operating levy of $1,100 dollars per student and due to a series of legislative changes the current operating levy authority is $604.51 per student. With the pool now being operated by the City of Crookston, Crookston Public Schools is asking voters to consider repealing the current $604.51 per student and replace this with a levy of $523.10 per student which equates to about a 9% reduction in taxation. This referendum would be for ten years and would be used to close the gap in state funding and operate our schools.

The second question will be for a building bond for construction of a bus garage. The bus garage project is estimated at 2.9 million which would require a ten year bond. This would be a new item and would increase taxes for ten years in order to pay off the bond. The School District is seeking the 10 year bond as opposed to a longer term bond as it saves about 1 million dollars in projected interest in comparison with a 16 year bond. We believe that this is the most fiscally prudent means of securing the bus garage for the community of Crookston. The district believes that the time is right to bring this question to the voters as our legislators have given a 50% tax credit on Ag land. Due to this credit, the state will essentially pay for 26% of this project. I am including a tax impact table to show you the impact that these questions will have on taxpayers. The way that you use this chart is to take your assessed value and follow the columns over to the right to get your impact if question one passes, impact if question two passes, and impact if both questions pass both yearly and by month. For instance, if your house is assessed at 125,000 dollars, the passage of question one will result in a $24 dollar per year savings. If question two passes, the increase will be $31 dollars per year. If both question one and question two pass, the net will be an increase of $7 dollars per year.

In order to ensure that you have the information that you need to make an informed decision on November 5th, 2019 we are providing a series of bus garage tours, public information sessions, and information on our website. Our first bus garage tour will be an open house format on August 8, 2019 from 4:00 pm to 5:45 pm at the old bus garage located on 115 E 4th Ave in Crookston. Following this bus garage tour, we will be holding a public information session on August 8, 2019 at 6 pm at the Crookston High School Auditorium. Information on the bus garage can be found at https://www.crookston.k12.mn.us click on the link referendum information on the front page or the referendum information tab at the top of the home page.

As always, if you have individual questions or would like to meet individually or in a small group about the referendum please contact me at 218-770-8717 or jeremyolson@isd593.org. Go Pirates!