Brooklyn Center Schools Hopes to Expand Mental Health Care If Levy Approved
Voters will make an important decision for Brooklyn Center Community Schools this fall.
The district is asking voters to increase its operating levy by $300 per student at the ballot box this November.
According to Superintendent Carly Baker, Brooklyn Center currently has one of the lowest operating levies in the metro area.
Using the relatively small levy, the district has looked to provide as many services to students as possible.
“We have so many kids who spend their days outside of the bell-to-bell school day with us,” Baker told CCX News. “We have students that often will eat three meals a day with us. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack.”
The district offers students basic health services like optometry and dentistry. And while the district already offers mental health services, Baker said they’d like to expand their offerings.
“Our young people are often times experiencing things outside of the school day and the school hours in the community and in their homes that lead to, can lead to trauma,” Baker said.
Increased Need for Social, Emotional and Mental Health Services
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, those social, emotional and mental health supports are increasingly important for students, Baker said.
“One of the things that we were really feeling in the larger question of how are the children was really the toll [from the] isolation of the pandemic and learning from home for nearly two years,” Baker said. “We don’t really believe that we even have a complete understanding of the depth of that long-lasting impact on their development.”
The goal of all the additional services for students is to meet their basic needs and help them focus in the classroom.
“If we’re able to meet those needs, it ultimately makes learning more accessible for young people,” Baker said.
If Approved, Brooklyn Center Schools Levy Adds $15 Per Month in Property Taxes
The district can’t provide those services — or basic teaching services — without funding.
Property tax levies fund both teaching programs and health care programs.
This November, the district is asking voters to approve a property tax increase of approximately $15 per month per household. The increase in revenue would cover teaching costs and additional programming.
“The referendum dollars would help us to maintain a smaller class size,” Baker said. “It would also allow us to be able to recruit and retain the highest quality teachers.”
Bakers said she empathized with families in the district that are struggling to make ends meet.
“We don’t make this request lightly and we make it with the utmost respect,” Baker said.
But, if the ballot question fails, budget cuts are likely to follow.
“We would have to engage in some cuts so that could look like different programming,” Baker said. “It could lead to some increased class sizes.”
Heading into the election season, Baker said she feels hopeful that voters will support the district.
“I believe wholeheartedly in the heart that our community members have,” she said. “Plenty of our households in our community quote-unquote bleed purple.”