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Lifelong Learning

Operating Levy Renewal Frequently Asked Questions

Moorhead School District residents will have an opportunity to vote November 8, 2016, on an operating levy renewal that will provide $223.66 per pupil in voter-approved funding each year for the next 10 years beginning with the 2018-19 school year.

What is an operating levy?
An operating levy is a levy for learning. Operating levies provide school districts money to be used for day-to-day expenses such as staff salaries, supplies, heating expenses, transportation and activities programs. These are the funds that it takes to run and operate schools.

Why should voters renew the operating levy?
The School Board has determined that funds are needed to maintain the quality education our community has come to expect from Moorhead Area Public Schools. A random sample survey of school district residents conducted in 2015 indicated that 90 percent of district residents are pleased with the quality of education provided by Moorhead Area Public Schools.

This operating levy renewal extends current funding. It will maintain current operating levy funds to support learning for our growing student enrollment. The school district has more students and is adding facilities, but the board is not seeking to increase funding – just to maintain the existing funding.

How will renewal of the operating levy impact my property taxes?
The average-priced home of $175,000 in the district will see zero tax impact with renewal of the operating levy. See the complete estimated tax impact table at www.moorheadschools.org/levy.

Would agricultural land be impacted by a successful operating levy renewal?
Agricultural land is impacted only to the extent of the value of a house, garage and surrounding one acre; the owner of agricultural land would not see an increase in taxes on the rest of his or her land.

If an operating levy is renewed on November 8, what would the money be used for in the coming years?
Revenue from renewal of the operating levy would address five priority areas identified by the School Board.

  • Support learning and operate our new and existing schools for our growing student enrollment.
  • Maintain average class sizes.
  • Provide a source of stable and predictable revenue to avoid reductions.
  • Maintain and replace technology equipment.
  • Maintain access to education programs including world languages and early childhood.

What if the operating levy is not approved?
The operating levy generates approximately $1.5 million for the school district. The board has determined that if the operating levy is not renewed reductions would occur in staff, services and programs.

Why does Moorhead Area Public Schools need to ask district residents to renew the operating levy?
School funding in Minnesota is largely based on funds from the state. However, state aid has not kept up with inflation. School districts across Minnesota are relying more heavily each year on operating referendum revenue to fund basic educational programs. 99% of Minnesota school districts use operating levy funding.

What is the average operating levy amount for a typical school district in Minnesota?
Statewide the average operating levy authority is $1,187 per pupil. Moorhead Area Public Schools is below state average at $947.66 per pupil — of which $223.66 is voter approved and up for renewal and $724 is board approved.

What is the recent history regarding the state’s increases in the amount of per pupil funding?
The basic general education formula establishes the minimum level of funding for school districts. Since 2004-05, the general education formula has not kept pace with inflation. For 2015-16 and 2016-17, the legislature approved an increase of 2% per year. Per-pupil allowance for 2016-17 would need to increase by another $626 (10.3%) to have kept pace with inflation. Other funding sources (e.g., special education, capital funds) also have not kept pace with inflation.

Formula Allowance Chart

Why is the operating levy renewal on the 2016 general election ballot?
Although the voter-approved operating levy is scheduled to expire after the 2017-18 school year, the school board voted to call the special election this year to place the operating levy renewal question on the November 8 general election ballot. If the district holds a special election in an odd year (non-general election year), the district would have to pay the cost of running the election.

Why does the ballot question refer to an increase in revenue?
The legal language of the ballot question is as follows:

The board of Independent School District No. 152 (Moorhead Area Public Schools) has proposed to renew the school district’s existing referendum revenue authorization of $223.66 per pupil which is scheduled to expire after taxes payable in 2017. The proposed referendum revenue authorization would be applicable for ten years, commencing with taxes payable in 2018, unless otherwise revoked or reduced as provided by law.

Shall the increase in the revenue proposed by the board of Independent School District No. 152 be approved?

BY VOTING "YES" ON THIS BALLOT QUESTION, YOU ARE VOTING TO EXTEND AN EXISTING PROPERTY TAX REFERENDUM THAT IS SCHEDULED TO EXPIRE.

This is the legal language required for an operating levy renewal. The school district’s revenue will not increase with approval of the operating levy renewal — it will maintain the existing funding at current levels. If the levy is not approved, the district’s funding would decrease.

Didn’t district residents pass an election in 2015 for the construction of new schools?
District residents approved a building bond referendum election in 2015. The funds from that bond issue are providing for growth and learning by:

  • Adding secure entries in all school buildings;
  • Creating adequate and appropriate learning environments for students from early childhood through grade 8;
  • Building a K-4 elementary;
  • Building a grades 5-6 school connected to Horizon Middle School to create a shared grades 5-8 campus reducing transitions for students;
  • Building an auditorium for school and community use at Horizon Middle School; and
  • Returning Probstfield Center for Education to an early childhood and district education center focused on the needs of our youngest learners.

The funds could not have been used for operating expenses. A helpful way to understand the difference is that bonds are for buildings, while an operating levy is for learning.

What has been the recent enrollment trend for Moorhead Area Public Schools?
In 2006 the district saw the reversal of an 11-year trend of enrollment decline. This was followed by four years of increases in enrollment after efforts by the district to build and remodel schools and enhance the quality of education. The district’s enrollment was projected to stabilize in 2010 with slight increases over the next few years. The district has been experiencing about 2 percent enrollment growth the past few years. In the decade from 2009 to 2019, total K-12 enrollment is projected to grow by nearly 1,200 students.

Prepared and paid for by Independent School District 152, Moorhead Area Public Schools, 2410 14th St. S., Moorhead, MN 56560.