The Westonka School Board has decided to proceed with a vote to revoke and replace our current operating levy with a tiered payment structure.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Westonka has not asked for an operating levy increase since 2007. We have focused on areas of highest need — our facilities — and have relied on enrollment growth, spending cuts and our fund reserve to maintain our programming.
- Schools are primarily funded by the State, but State aid has not kept up with inflation over the past decade. This, in addition to unfunded mandates in special education, has forced the district to make annual budget cuts.
- Over the past three years, the district has needed to use fund reserve dollars to avoid programming cuts. Dipping into this “emergency fund” each year is not sustainable, and eventually our programming will suffer. Securing operational funds for 10 years would allow the district to strengthen and grow programs, maintain competitive class sizes and improve the safety and security of our school.
- Levy Specifics: the district would revoke three existing levies and combine them into a single 10-year levy. The new levy would be issued in two steps, providing long-term support and lessening the tax impact by asking for funds when we need them — when enrollment is expected to plateau.
- The districts we are compared to and compete with have higher levy authority (i.e. how much money per student they can access via school taxes in their district). The new tiered levy would gradually bring us close to the level of our neighbors Orono and Minnetonka.