Because state law does not allow bond funding (for buildings) to be used for operating expenses. The money currently being used for construction projects was secured exclusively for needed upgrades to all of our school buildings.
A school must have both safe, functional learning spaces and quality educational programming in order to provide a good education for students. Local residents determine how much funding is available for each when they vote in bond and levy referendum elections.
A good way to remember the difference between a bond referendum and a levy referendum is this: Bond for buildings // Levy for learning.
In 2015, voters approved a bond referendum to pay for a district-wide facilities project to provide a safe and comfortable place for students to learn. The construction in this project is being phased in over the course of a five-year timeline, with much of it already completed. Funding for major projects like this must be secured through the use of bonds (approved by voters), and bond funding can never be used to cover day-to-day operating expense.
It’s important to note that the tax impact of the 2015 bond referendum has decreased since the time that referendum was approved. Between 2017 and 2018, taxpayers saw a 6% reduction in the amount of property taxes they pay to fund schools. In fact, the school portion of property taxes today is lower than it was in 2001.
The question before voters this year is a levy referendum. It is meant specifically for day-to-day operating expenses and would provide the funding to reduce class sizes, maintain and enhance educational opportunities, and restore and enhance curriculum and other instructional resources. It is important to note that Forest Lake Area Schools has not had an increase in its voter-approved operating levy since 2006.
In making decisions about when to request voter-approved funding, Forest Lake Area Schools has made a significant effort to include members of the public from across the political spectrum. A citizen task force was used leading up to both the 2015 bond referendum request and this current levy referendum request, and the recommendations of each task force helped determine both the needs and timing of the referendum requests.
You can see an infographic on our district's voter-approved funding here.