ISD 728 voters approved both requests for increased school funding in the Tuesday, Nov. 5 election, with the two referendum questions getting huge support from residents in Rogers and Otsego, according to unofficial results.
According to the district:
- Question 1 passed 56.5% yes to 43.5% no. The increase in the operating levy will be used to fund school materials, student support and academic programs: (unofficial results: 5,901 yes votes, 4.542 no votes). Examples of how the funding will be used include:
- Supporting struggling students.
- Maintaining class sizes.
- Supporting student mental health.
- Updating curriculum and other classroom materials.
- Improving career and technical programs for students.
- Question 2 passed about 56 percent yes to 44 percent no. The bond funding will help address enrollment growth, deferred maintenance needs, flexible learning spaces and facility inequities. Funds will be used to:
- Build a middle school to address enrollment growth.
- Address deferred maintenance needs across ISD 728, such as roofs, HVAC systems and parking lots, to maintain the community’s investment in our schools.
- Update indoor physical education and outdoor athletic facilities at all three traditional high schools to ensure they are equitable and adequate for students across the district.
- Create more flexible learning spaces across the district and at all levels to support different student learning styles.
“We are thrilled with these votes of support from our community,” said ISD 728 Superintendent Dan Bittman. “For nearly two years we’ve worked with community members on a comprehensive, community-driven planning process to best meet our students’ educational and facility needs. This referendum is what the community asked for, and now we can deliver.”
The operating levy increase request (Q1) was made due to inadequate state funding that has not kept pace with inflation and unfunded mandates that put increasing pressure on the district’s operating budget. Voters approved a $750 per student increase which will generate approximately $11 million per year, providing more predictable and stable funding, while adding support and resources for students throughout the district.
The district will soon begin plans for the building projects being funded by the bond question. The new middle school is likely to be built near Prairie View Elementary in Otsego to relieve enrollment growth pressures in that part of the district. All schools will receive updates in the form of flexible learning spaces and/or building maintenance. And the three traditional high schools (Elk River, Zimmerman and Rogers) will see improvements in their indoor and/or outdoor physical education and athletic facilities. Plans will be shared with the community as they are developed.
School funding is a partnership between the state and federal governments and local taxpayers. When schools need additional funding for major building projects or to support operating expenses, they must turn to voters for their approval – with bond requests for building projects and levy requests for learning expenses. More background on this referendum is available at www.isd728.org/728Strong.