Lakeville school officials plan fall levy referendum

Lakeville Area School District voters can plan on deciding the fate of a school levy referendum this fall, but even if it passes the district will face cuts.

New projections show the district will need $3.1 million to $3.5 million in cuts for the 2013-14 budget to maintain operations, about $1 million more than first discussed last November.

A public process is being planned to receive feedback on the cuts, which will likely be considered by the School Board in March.

Business Services Director Randy Anderson, on the job for about a month, said the change in district finances is due to a variety of factors including rising health insurance costs from the Affordable Care Act, funding cuts and declining enrollment of about 200 students per year.

That level of declining enrollment costs the district about $1 million annually, Anderson said, and he reviewed birth rates that show the district’s shrinking student population will be an ongoing trend.

“If (voters) pass a levy at about $500 per pupil, which is about the tolerance level in the last community survey, we would be able to balance our budget for 2014-15,” said School District Superintendent Lisa Snyder. “But because of declining enrollment, we’d be looking at going into a cycle of annual reductions of around the $1 million to $1.5 million range starting in 2015-16.”

If Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposal to tax services is passed by the Legislature, Anderson estimated the tax would cost the district another $100,000 annually.
The levy referendum can help the district avoid an additional $6 million to $7 million in reductions in 2014-15, Snyder said.

School Board members expressed frustration about the budget challenges at a Feb. 8 workshop.

“I’m tired of cutting,” School Board Member Jim Skelly said, noting the district’s controversial 2011 action that cut $15.8 million over two years and closed Crystal Lake Elementary School.

He asked if the district could tap into its fund balance to help buffer cuts.

Anderson advised against the idea, noting the district has about two weeks of operating expenses in the account, less than half of the average amount kept by most Minnesota districts, and cutting it could threaten district operations.

Snyder said the district will work with stakeholders to define a proposal for cutting $3.5 million from the budget, and determine a public process that may include community listening sessions.

She encouraged the decisions to be made by March because of the impact they will have on district staffing and on people’s lives.

  • Lakeville Senior

    Declining enrollment??? How long until we can close Lakeville South and operate just one high school. The reason for our cuts over the past 5 years is because of the huge costs that were generated when we built a second high school when an alternative option of putting on an addition to Lakeville North was a much affordable and suitable option. Unfortunately we had a school board that mislead voters just to build their own personal resume.

  • taxpayer28

    L.S. Not only that, but with today’s technology why do they need all the administrators, VP’s etc. It shows a lack of productivity from administration. There is no reason not to have one administrative staff hand both schools.

  • Love the water

    First off, I dislike unions, however, the school district seems to be quick to raise classroom sizes by cutting teachers and programs and raising fees but you see very little to the non-union – adminstration budget. The problem the school district is going to have AGAIN is trying to find a way to educate the homeowners who do not have kids in the district anymore. And they have to go beyond the “better schools keep the value of your house high”.

    If they have a vote for technology – just through it out the window unless you can educate the homeowners on this one too. People are going to have the same excuse – my computer is 8 years old, why does my 8 year old need an IPAD at school. They explanation cannot be “all the other districts are doing this and we need to keep up” – that is just like “if your friends jumped off the Lake Marion/35 bridge, it doesn’t mean you should too”.

    In regards to Lakeville South – they sold the naive voters on building the school while purposely forgetting to tell the naive that after the school is built we will be back to ask for more money to actually fund the school. Shortly after the school was built news came out that we would start seeing big declines in enrollment. I guess the declines are here.

    Why people will vote no: Lakeville South when more affordable addition at North was a viable option, fieldturf at Lakeville North(I still doubt they have rented the field to other schools), Amaroso’s severance package, IPADs galore.

    Good luck to the district reaching out to the homeowners w/out kids and the poorer sections of the district who prefer Starbucks over kids education.