FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 11, 2017
School Board Approves Three Referendum Questions for
November 7, 2017 Election
After months of reviewing enrollment and budget data, working with community-based enrollment growth and finance advisory groups and assessing how best to maintain the Wayzata Public Schools commitment to academic excellence, the Wayzata School Board has approved placing three school funding requests on a November 7, 2017 ballot:
- Question 1: Operating Levy – Renew and Increase
This funding would stabilize the district budget, maintain class sizes, manage growing enrollment and provide students with needed support services.
- Question 2: Bond Funding
This funding would address the district’s growth and facilities needs, including building a new elementary school and addressing additional capacity, safety and academic needs.
- Question 3: Technology Levy – Renew
Continuing this existing funding would help maintain technology for students and staff to provide a personalized education and access to real-time educational resources.
“We work hard to be financially prudent on behalf of our students and our community,” said Wayzata School Board Chair Chris McCullough. “These funding requests are in response to our growing enrollment and based on the advice of our Citizen’s Finance Advisory Council and a community-based Growth Task Force. Our goal is to maintain the academic excellence our community expects and our students deserve, while always being mindful of and sensitive to the concerns of our taxpayers.”
If all three requests are approved by voters in November, the tax impact on an average homeowner ($350,000 home) would be less than $15 per month.
Prior to making the decision to place the funding requests on the ballot, the School Board reviewed the following information presented by Superintendent Chace Anderson:
- Inadequate state funding is putting increased pressure on the district’s operating budget, which funds teachers, classrooms and other district operating costs. State funding has not kept up with inflation nor increasing costs – forcing the district to cut more than $16 million from its operating budget over the past eight years.
- Wayzata’s operating levy is lower than most neighboring districts and nearly $500 less per student than the amount allowed by state law.
- The last time the district asked residents to increase the operating levy was more than a decade ago.
- Without an increase in the operating levy, WPS will face annual budget cuts of $1 million.
Growth and Facilities Needs
- If current housing trends continue, WPS can expect approximately another 1,000 new students
K-12 by 2019.
- New housing developments are going up 2-3 times more rapidly than developers had projected in the north, and there is stable growth in the southern part of the district as older homes turnover to young families.
- Without a new elementary school, all elementaries would become crowded and all elementary class sizes would increase.
- While there are elementary level capacity issues, there should be adequate space at the middle schools and high school for several years due to the recent expansion of Wayzata High School and moving early childhood programs out of Central Middle School to make space for middle school students.
- Additional facilities needs include traffic safety issues at some schools, cafeteria space concerns at Central Middle School, outdated elementary media centers and performing arts space improvements needed at East and West Middle Schools.
Technology for Teaching and Learning
- A district technology levy will soon expire, which provides $4 million per year to support personalized education and access to real-time educational resources for students.
- Renewing this levy will have no tax impact.
The school district will begin preparing informational materials for residents about the funding requests, including a website, video and print materials to help residents make an informed vote. These materials should be ready by the start of the school year.
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