Richfield Public Schools Ask Voters for More Funds

Battling a variety of budget problems, Richfield asks its residents to approve an increase in student spending, thus raising their property taxes.

Come November 2012, Richfield residents will have the option to vote on a measure that would call for an increase in the amount of marginal cost-per-pupil spending—thereby increasing property taxes.

The approved a special election ballot Monday night that would revoke the current referendum per-pupil number—which is $301.40—and authorize $717.40 as the new amount, a net increase of $416. The referendum would be effective for taxes paid in 2012 and would be applicable for 10 years. The ballot approved by the board states that voting "yes" on the ballot means voting for a property tax increase.

If the referendum was approved this fall, said the new annual costs to taxpayers per household, with an average home value of $185,800, would be $119. 

Without the increase, Shwartz estimated that funds from the existing referendum would expire in June of 2013. If that were to occur, the district is projecting a fund balance of only $200,0000—which is well below a sustainable balance. In addition, the district would face additional, deep cuts.

, board Chairman Peter Toensing said it will be money well spent and they have a strong case to bring it to the community.

was also in attendance on behalf of the city Monday, to show her support for the measure.

Before closing the meeting, said: "I want everyone to know administratively whatever money we have, we will work with it and do the very best job we can."

The special election will be held in conjunction with , taking place Nov. 8.

Sean Johansen August 17, 2011 at 02:39 PM
Say NO to tax increases on the poor. If they want to fund the schools then tax the rich which the state vetoed. Now the lowest income earners have to subsidize a school increase which they can not afford. If the school can waste money on a field and astro turf then that is their problem.
Kevin Peterson August 17, 2011 at 11:01 PM
New turf = reduces maintenance costs, increased use, and potential revenue by renting the field out. Over the long haul, this is a financial winner. Sometimes, you have to spend money to make money. As far as taxes and the desire to omit poor folks from the increase, is not a solid education for their kids a desirable route to a better life? If all of society can benefit from it, then the costs should be shared by all. Also, good luck getting agreement on who is and isn't "poor".
Kevin O'Donovan August 18, 2011 at 06:47 AM
Are our schools under funded or, are they over managed? Do we euphemistically call free day care, early childhood education? Do we call parental replacement, remedial education? Are teachers unfairly bearing criticism more appropriately directed at parents? Have educational costs exploded because there is a seemingly endless stream of taxpayer money thrown in that direction? Would expenses go down if there was less money available? Should schools be closed during the summer, or stay operational year round? Should non-citizens be assessed a fee for enrollment? Should non-English speaking students be required to develop English language skills before placement at an appropriate grade level? Should basic reading and math skills be developed before any additional challenges are attempted? Do we medicate children for imagined emotional issues when patience and attention will suffice? Let's think before we act.
Kevin O'Donovan August 19, 2011 at 04:04 AM
Khloe,the Richfield Patch is the most open forum for discussion I've seen in Minnesota. The staff writers do a very good job presenting the news in a manner that even I can understand. I see many different opinions expressed. Gay, straight, Progressive, Libertarian, Conservative, and sometimes even insane or comical comments can be found here. It truly is representative of Richfield, and provides a great service.
Debra N. November 07, 2011 at 03:12 AM
Vote No to raising property taxes on struggling Richfield homeowners. Property values are down and foreclosures are up. Now is not the time to raise the cost of home ownership in Richfield. Quality should still be attainable without additional funds. We are all finding new ways to stretch our dollars and the school system can do it too.
Robert November 07, 2011 at 04:49 PM
There's more important things than a slight increase in your property tax. Voting No would weaken our schools, thus weaking our property values further. Strong schools = good community where people want to live, thus increasing your property value.
joe November 08, 2011 at 08:27 PM
I know it's important and I know it's complicated, but I just can't figure out how we're spending way more money now than we were 10 years ago and the student population has gone down. The administrators keep talking about making cuts but there overall expenditures grow each year. Yes, I know about inflation, but that doesn't seem to matter much to my employer during tough times when my take home pay drops by 20%. Heaven forbid someone loses their job...now that's when you see some real cuts. I'm voting no until I see some fiscal belt tightening rather than playing the blame game. Joe B
Caitlin Burgess (Editor) November 08, 2011 at 08:49 PM
Actually Joe, the student population in Richfield schools has been growing again in the last few years. It's not even close to its numbers during the city's "good ole days" in the 50s, 60s, 70s and maybe even 80s, but nonetheless we are attracting more families and students. I'm no accountant but, from what I understand, the fact that overall costs are rising is also affecting the budget. (Gas prices, costs of supplies, food, electricity, heat, water, etc.) Not to mention that LGA and other funding sources apart from LGA have also been cut. Now I'm not saying in times like these schools shouldn't be tightening the belt like the rest of the population, but it seems as if they have. Do you have other suggestions on how the district can cut costs?
joe November 08, 2011 at 09:08 PM
Kind of makes me think. Now all they talk about is cuts. What about all the years they were adding to programs and administrators. Maybe they should have been adding to a rainy day fund rather than spending all the increases like all of us should budget.
Caitlin Burgess (Editor) November 08, 2011 at 09:22 PM
Yeah, I get your point Joe. But at the same time I doubt they were adding programs and administrators just to spend frivolously. Of course, it would've be best to hold some money away, but I'm sure increasing offerings to students and having more staff to support them was done with the best intentions.
Kevin Maleck November 09, 2011 at 12:00 AM
Our schools have cut costs and will be cutting into the bone if the levy doesn't pass. Putting the quality of our student's experience aside, one should look at the effect the general desirabilityof our schools has on property values in a market where there has been a static number of single family homes for decades. Imagine yourself, a family with children about to enter school or a family planning to find a home. Some of the first things you may look at are things such as school programs, class sizes, facilities, etc. That affects market pressures that ultimately determine the price of a home. IN Richfield's case, nearly a quarter of homes have school families and a high number house an aging population that will become prospective purchaches for future families. I would trust that most would want Richfield to be the place others want to be more than other cities. That drives home prices up much more than $120 per year.
Kevin Maleck November 09, 2011 at 12:00 AM
Further, prior to 1970, ALL school funding was via local levies. The state moved to level the playing field somewhat by funding schools and capping the amount a city can levy. That was a good plan. There is still something to be said for keeping some funding local - it keeps accountability local. Either way, we pay. We pay to the fed, we pay to the state or we pay to the city. I argue that Fed money tends to be spent more recklessly. You may also find solice in the fact that Richfield, AFTER the levy, will still fund less per pupil than any of our neighboring suburbs. Want to make your voice heard? there are many forums. Dr Slotterback hosts a advisory committee meeting once a month. You may contact board members. You may run for school board. You may vote. Want a better idea of what is going on? Volunteer. In fact, if you are good at math - we are working on a tutoring program and would love the help. It is an enlightening experience.
Brie Shultz November 09, 2011 at 01:51 AM
There was over 750 votes cast in my precinct around 6pm. A lot of elderly seniors were voting. I was the youngest one there. It will be interesting to see how it nets out. What I don't get is; the state keeps borrowing from schools to balance the budget for the last few years, so, if this money wasn't be borrowed for other things, would it go directly to the schools and then there would be no need for this referendum? Our legislators didn't want to raise taxes on the top 1% or use new sources of revenue (racinos) last summer to balance the budget, but now most likely our property taxes are going to go up because of that.


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