2018 Operating Levy Referendum
Vote November 6, 2018
In November, voters will have the opportunity to choose whether or not to support additional funding for Forest Lake Area Schools. The fall election will include a levy referendum requesting an additional amount of $825 per pupil per year. These funds will be used to support educational programming, including teaching staff and curriculum.
Levy requests like this one have become commonplace in school districts throughout Minnesota as state budgets have shifted to place more responsibility on local property taxpayers to fund their community schools. Over the past 25 years, statewide educational funding trends have dropped well below the rate of inflation, requiring school districts to rely on their local voters for support.
It has been 12 years since Forest Lake Area Schools has had an increase in funding from a voter-approved levy. This, along with decreasing state funding, has resulted in significant budget reductions for the district. Over the past four years, the district has cut $7.5 million from its budget, resulting in larger class sizes, fewer resources for teachers and students, reduction in programs and closure of one elementary school.
The 2018 operating levy request comes after a careful budget study by school staff and community members. This spring, a school funding task force was established to review the district’s funding and determine options for moving forward. This task force intentionally included community members from a variety of political viewpoints, and the operating levy referendum was determined based on this group’s recommendation.
In addition to the task force, the school district also sought out citizen input through a community survey and a series of six Community Conversation events held in Columbus, Forest Lake, Linwood, Lino Lakes, Scandia and Wyoming.
Forest Lake Area voters are at a critical decision point. Essentially, citizens face this question: “What do we value for the students of our community?” At their June 7th meeting, the school board approved two lists of what the community can expect from either outcome of the levy referendum: a list of cuts should the referendum fail; and a list of spending priorities if the referendum succeeds. The lists can be viewed on the Levy Implications page.