Osseo Area Schools finds wide support for levies

All 22 precincts favored operating, technology levies

BY Paul Groessel

Sun POST Newspapers

 

Following the approval of two Osseo Area Schools referendum questions on the Nov. 5 election ballot, Supt. Kate Maguire said the results show wide support from the community.

“I was extremely pleased with the results,” she said Nov. 6. “We had support in every precinct.”

More than 60 percent of voters were in favor of both the operating levy and technology levy, according to the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State’s unofficial results.

With all 22 school district precincts reporting, the operating levy passed with 63 percent voter approval (9,563 votes), and 62 percent of voters approved the technology levy (9,408 votes), according to the preliminary results.

Maguire recognized that some precincts were closer than others.

“We certainly respect there are a lot of people with different perspectives,” she said.

The operating levy will provide $9 million more than the existing levy, which collects about $33 million a year and is set to expire in 2017. Approval of the technology referendum will provide $5 million in additional annual funding for the next 10 years. These funds would be dedicated to providing students technological equipment and curriculum.

The wide-margin win follows a narrow defeat in last year’s election, when a five-year operating levy was defeated by 116 votes, or about 0.2 percent, and a technology levy was defeated by a margin of 2,287 votes, or about 3.4 percent.

Following the defeat of two levy questions last year, Maguire said the district avoided classroom cuts when making $3 million in budget reductions for the 2014 school year, but that could not have continued if voters had not approved the operating referendum.

“It was not going to be possible to protect classroom instruction any longer,” she said.

At least for a little while, that will not be a concern if current budget assumptions hold true, she said.

“Given what we assume now about revenue, we anticipate no budget reductions for two years,” she said.

This was the message the district was sending to community members leading up to Election Day.

It’s also the first time the district has had a technology levy. The $5 million in annual funds over the next 10 years will allow the district to instill the technological capabilities and learning that neighboring school districts have included in their classroom curricula, Maguire said.

Since last spring, staff and community members have worked on a technological “vision” for the district, and plans for the hardware and software have been sketched out, she said. Next, the professional development plan for teachers, timelines and specific device selections will take place, Maguire said.

“We’re very excited about getting moving on the details now,” she said.

To work on those details and find best practices, the district can turn to those neighboring districts that have been using technology in classrooms.

“We’re not blazing a trail here,” Maguire said. “We’ve got role models like Minnetonka, Wayzata, Spring Lake Park. … We’re really going to be able to learn quickly from them.”

 

Contact Paul Groessel at paul.groessel@ecm-inc.com

 
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