District 622 looks to double per-pupil spending

Levy increase would bring district in line with metro average

District 622 leaders are looking to double per-pupil spending in the district at the start of the 2016-2017 school year. Voters will likely see two questions on the ballot in November, asking for approval of an operating levy increase of $900 per pupil, and a $3 million capital projects levy. The capital projects levy would be used to fund the purchase, installation, and maintenance of software and technology for classroom instruction. Both levy proposals are for a period of 10 years.

While taxpayers voted to renew an operating levy in 2011, District 622 has not seen a levy increase in over a decade. Decreased home values resulting from the collapse of the real-estate market and declining enrollment have further cut into district revenues over the past several years. Median home values have begun to recover in some District 622 communities, but are still far below pre-Great Recession levels, and overall lower than in many Metro-area school districts.

"What this would to do is get us in a comparative range with surrounding school districts," business services director Randy Anderson said of the proposed operating levy increase.

The North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District receives over $1,200 less in per- pupil state, federal and local property-tax revenue than the seven-county Metro average, for a total of about $13 million less in revenue annually, according to a district statement.

Anderson said District 622 currently receives about $913 per pupil.

For comparison, South Washington County Schools receive $1,351 per pupil. That district is also looking to ask voters to increase its operating levy by $900 per pupil this fall.

Another neighboring district -- Stillwater Public Schools -- receives $1,836 in per pupil funding. Robbinsdale Public Schools, a district Anderson said is very similar to 622 in size and scope, receives $1,843 per pupil.

Anderson said it's too early to determine what the property tax impact would be for a typical homeowner in the district if the referendums pass Nov. 3. The district is working with financial advisors and awaiting updated market values for homes in Ramsey and Washington counties.

He said firmer numbers would be available by Aug. 18, when the District 622 School Board will vote on whether or not to place the referendum requests on the ballot this November.

Joshua Nielsen can be reached at jnielsen@lillienews.com or 651-748-7822.


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