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Board approves November referendum election for learning and technology needs

After months of discussion and review of district finances, the Osseo Area School Board unanimously approved placing two school funding requests on the November 8, 2022 ballot. The recommendation came from district leadership and was endorsed by two community-based committees that review district finances and technology needs.

The first ballot question requests an increase in the district’s operating levy, which pays for day-to-day learning and instructional needs. If approved by voters, it would provide an additional $7 million annually for the district to use on priorities such as individualized learning, academic interventions, student mental health needs and other critical classroom supports.

The second ballot question requests an increase in the district’s capital project levy for technology (commonly called a technology levy), which pays for classroom learning technology, as well as needed technology support staff and infrastructure. If approved by voters, it would provide an additional $2.3 million annually for the district to help maintain current technology systems and support staff, increase school safety and security technology, ensure tools and systems for all scholars and create digital learning spaces throughout schools.  

If both requests are approved by voters in November, the tax impact on the average homeowner ($250,000 value home) would be less than $9 per month.

“These investments are very intentional,” said Kelsey Dawson Walton, board chair. “They will position us to plan for the bold future that we all want for our district.”

It’s been almost a decade since the Osseo Area Schools community has been asked to increase their local funding for schools. Educational needs have significantly grown over this time. The state’s financial contributions, which are about 70% of the district’s budget, have not kept pace with inflation or increasing needs for more than two decades. If state education funding has simply kept pace with inflation, Osseo Area Schools would receive $15 million more next year alone.

The two funding requests are Phase I of the district’s Building a Better Future multi-year plan, which focuses on learning and technology needs. Phase II will focus on facility needs financed through bond funds. The facilities needs will be presented to voters in the next few years, after adequate research has been completed to plan the district’s long-term facilities needs.

As always, Osseo Area Schools continues to focus its resources on the individual learning needs of scholars. The new strategic roadmap and three-year operational plan are some of the ways the district is holding itself accountable in achieving that work. A scientifically-valid community survey this past January revealed that more than three-fourths of residents believe the value they receive at Osseo Area Schools is either good or excellent. In that same survey, two-thirds of residents think Osseo Area Schools is a good investment and recognize the importance of supporting that investment with local tax dollars.

District staff will now prepare informational materials about these requests so residents are aware and can make an informed vote. Please reach out to BuildingABetterFuture@district279.org or 763-391-8990 with any questions.