Wayzata Public School District voters approved all three school funding requests on the November 7 ballot:
- Question 1: 77% (4,974) yes, 23% (1,495) no. Renew and increase the operating levy for 10 years to provide an additional $5.5 million per year to maintain class sizes, provide students with needed support services, manage growing enrollment and stabilize the district budget.
- Question 2: 77% (4,989) yes, 23% (1,479) no. Approve $70 million in bond funding to address the district’s growth and facilities needs for:
- Capacity: Build a new elementary school and enlarge the school cafeteria and food service areas at Central Middle School, the largest of the three middle schools.
- Safety: Improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety at district elementary schools and Central Middle School.
- Academics: Renovate elementary and middle school media centers to create more flexible learning spaces and provide technology infrastructure; improve performing arts space at East and West Middle Schools.
- Question 3: 79% (5,111) yes, 21% (1,359) no. Renew the technology levy for 10 years, which provides $4 million per year to help maintain technology for students and staff.
“We are incredibly grateful to our community for their support of our more than 11,000 students and 1,600 staff through these yes votes,” said Superintendent Chace Anderson. “These voter-approved funds are investments in our community’s future and will support our commitment to excellence for each and every student.”
*Results are unofficial until canvassed by the Wayzata School Board on November 13, 2017.
School Board Approves Three Referendum Questions for November 7, 2017 Election
After months of reviewing enrollment and budget data, working with community-based enrollment growth and finance advisory groups and assessing how best to maintain the Wayzata Public Schools commitment to academic excellence, the Wayzata School Board has approved placing three school funding requests on a November 7, 2017 ballot:
- Question 1: Operating Levy – Renew and Increase
This funding would stabilize the district budget, maintain class sizes, manage growing enrollment and provide students with needed support services.
- Question 2: Bond Funding
This funding would address the district's growth and facilities needs, including building a new elementary school and addressing additional capacity, safety and academic needs.
- Question 3: Technology Levy - Renew
Continuing this existing funding would help maintain technology for students and staff to provide a personalized education and access to real-time educational resources.
"We work hard to be financially prudent on behalf of our students and our community," said Wayzata School Board Chair Chris McCullough. "These funding requests are in response to our growing enrollment and based on the advice of our Citizen's Finance Advisory Council and a community-based Growth Task Force. Our goal is to maintain the academic excellence our community expects and our students deserve, while always being mindful of and sensitive to the concerns of our taxpayers."
If all three requests are approved by voters in November, the tax impact on an average homeowner ($350,000 home) would be less than $15 per month.
Prior to making the decision to place the funding requests on the ballot, the School Board reviewed the following information presented by Superintendent Chace Anderson:
- Inadequate state funding is putting increased pressure on the district's operating budget, which funds teachers, classrooms and other district operating costs. State funding has not kept up with inflation nor increasing costs - forcing the district to cut more than $16 million from its operating budget over the past eight years.
- Wayzata's operating levy is lower than most neighboring districts and nearly $500 less per student than the amount allowed by state law.
- The last time the district asked residents to increase the operating levy was more than a decade ago.
- Without an increase in the operating levy, WPS will face annual budget cuts of $1 million.
Growth and Facilities Needs
- If current housing trends continue, WPS can expect approximately another 1,000 new students K-12 by 2019.
- New housing developments are going up 2-3 times more rapidly than developers had projected in the north, and there is stable growth in the southern part of the district as older homes turnover to young families.
- Without a new elementary school, all elementaries would become crowded and all elementary class sizes would increase.
- While there are elementary level capacity issues, there should be adequate space at the middle schools and high school for several years due to the recent expansion of Wayzata High School and moving early childhood programs out of Central Middle School to make space for middle school students.
- Additional facilities needs include traffic safety issues at some schools, cafeteria space concerns at Central Middle School, outdated elementary media centers and performing arts space improvements needed at East and West Middle Schools.
Technology for Teaching and Learning
- A district technology levy will soon expire, which provides $4 million per year to support personalized education and access to real-time educational resources for students.
- Renewing this levy will have no tax impact.
Frequently Asked Questions
- 1. Why is the school district asking for more funding?
- 2. What will be on the ballot?
- 3. How much is the district growing?
- 4. How does Wayzata's operating levy compare with other school districts?
- 5. What has the district done to manage costs and avoid asking for an increase?
- 6. What will happen if voters don't approve the requests?
- 7. What will these requests mean for my property taxes?
- 8. Didn't the school district just build a new elementary school?
- 9. If the district is growing so much, do we also need more space at the middle schools and high school?
- 10. Who decided a new elementary school was needed?
- 11. What is the difference between bond funds and an operating levy – isn't it all just money you can use where you need it?
- 12. How is this bond funding request different than the funding approved by voters in February 2014?
- 13. What did the $16 million in cuts over the past eight years consist of?
- 14. If voters approve the referendum, where will the new elementary school be built?