Operating Levy Approved!
On Tuesday, Nov. 5, Westonka School District residents approved a new 10-year operating levy in support of our students. Unofficial election results are as follows: 65.24% Yes (1,498 votes), 34.76% No (798 votes).
Additionally, Dave Botts, Kelle Bowe, Ralph Harrison and Heidi Marty were elected to four-year terms on the Westonka School Board.
Thank you to everyone who voted!
2019 Operating Levy Referendum & School Board Election
Cast your vote on Tuesday, November 5
Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Residents can find where they will vote using the Minnesota Secretary of State's pollfinder.
After the polls close, view election results here.
We are grateful for local support of Westonka Public Schools, which has brought positive growth, recognition and success to our students and community. On Nov. 5, 2019, Westonka residents will be asked to vote on a revoke and replace levy with a tiered payment structure. The district currently has three voter-approved operating levies in place, totaling $1,096 per pupil. These will be replaced with a single, 10-year levy with a two-step increase.
If it passes, the district will:
Stay competitive with neighboring school districts in class sizes and programming
Maintain the lowest school taxes in Hennepin County
Accelerate progress in Westonka’s award-winning schools
Secure long-term funding to avoid impactful reductions
If it fails
$750,000 in reductions are projected to be needed for 2020-2021—equivalent to about 15 teachers
Securing 10 years of stable funding
The new levy will provide 10 years of stable funds needed for growth and continuous improvement. State funding has not kept up with inflation over the last decade, and unfunded federal and state mandates divert funds from other needed programming. Westonka makes annual budget reductions to help close this funding gap; however, even with reductions and enrollment growth, the past two years the district has dipped into its fund reserve to protect class sizes and programs. [Learn more about the Westonka School Board's annual budget adjustments]
Using an “emergency fund” to balance the budget is not sustainable. Furthermore, the enrollment growth the district has relied on for revenue in recent years is projected to level off in 2023. Without a long-term funding solution, significant reductions impacting student learning will be required.
Responsible tiered approach
The single, 10-year levy will be implemented in two steps and will adjust for inflation, providing long-term revenue and lessening the tax impact for residents. Instead of asking for a larger increase up front, this levy accesses funds only as they are needed by the district.
If the levy passes, the current levy authority will increase to $1,446 per pupil for taxes payable 2020 (generating approx. $1 million in additional revenue) and to $1,926 for taxes payable 2024 (generating an additional $1 million). This will gradually bring Westonka’s per pupil funding closer to that of neighboring school districts Orono and Minnetonka. [See neighboring school district levy comparison]
2020 Proposed Annual Taxes
A great return on your investment
Westonka has the lowest school taxes in Hennepin County with best-in-nation results.
Even with the passage of a bond referendum in 2016 to build an activity center and performing arts center on the high school campus, Westonka Public Schools continues to have the lowest total school taxes in Hennepin County. Westonka has not asked for an increase to its operating levy in more than 10 years, with the last increase coming in 2007. If the new levy is approved in 2019, Westonka will still have the lowest school taxes in the county.
The Nov. 5, 2019, Westonka Public Schools levy referendum is less than two weeks away. This week's Borg Report serves as a reminder of the two distinct pathways that will be decided by the outcome of the referendum. We are also providing information on early voting. If you have not had an opportunity to become familiar with the levy request, please visit the referendum page on the district website, www.westonka.k12.mn.us/referendum.