Robbinsdale Area Schools Push for Levy Request to Prevent Cuts
Thousands of kids attend the 16 schools that make up the Robbinsdale School District, and every year, the Minnesota Legislature provides the district with funding based on the number of students enrolled.
But according to district officials, state funding isn’t keeping up with the cost of inflation.
“We’d love to see an index to the per pupil funding that we get from the state to be indexed to inflation,” said Mike Herring, a Robbinsdale School Board member. “We ask for it every year. We’re denied every year then we also have to go ask every year for additional funds, sometime we get them sometimes we don’t.”
Herring says that because district expenses exceed revenue, the district has had to make nearly $17 million in cuts over the last two years.
“The majority of what we’re able to cut came from our central office or our administrative areas. We stayed away from the classroom as much as we could,” Herring said.
However, he said classroom cuts are looming if the Robbinsdale School District doesn’t generate more funding.
“We are projected to have about a $4 to $4.5 million budget shortfall right now for next year. We’d have more cuts,” Herring admitted.
The school board doesn’t want more cuts, so they’re asking voters to approve an operating levy that would increase by $515 per student, bringing in nearly $6 million in additional revenue.
It’s a ‘Tough Ask’
“All we’re doing is we’re going out to ask our voters to make up that difference,” Herring said. “And it’s a tough ask. We understand, especially for those on fixed incomes, but our schools improve our community.”
Herring says it’s a tough ask because the tax impact on the average homeowner living in a house valued at $223,000 would be about $12.50 more per month than they’re paying now.
But to avoid cuts in the classroom, he says it’s a price worth paying.
“I know our community’s going to do the right thing at the end of the day, and they’re going to support our children,” Herring said.
The district can’t actively campaign to encourage voters to support the referendum, but they do have listening sessions planned where people can get more information.
A listening session will take place Sept. 29 at Marna’s Cafe in Robbinsdale. Another one will be Oct. 13 at the Lunds & Byerlys in Golden Valley.
Both events go from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.