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.
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.
- Referendum Fact Sheet
- Referendum Quick Facts
- Sample Ballot
- Referendum at a Glance
- Question 2 Rationale and Detail
- School Board Approves Three Referendum Questions for November 7, 2017 Election
- Review and Comment Submitted to Minnesota Department of Education
- Notice of Special Election Mailing
- Wayzata Public Schools Bond Referendum Proposal Receives Positive Review from MDE
- Many ways to learn facts about Wayzata Public Schools funding requests on November 7 ballot
- Remember to Vote Flyer
If all three requests are approved by voters, the tax impact on an average homeowner ($350,000 home) would be less than $15 per month.
|Request||Amount||Monthly Tax Impact *|
|Q1: Operating levy - renew and increase||$5.5million per year||$13.50|
|Q2: Bond funds||$70 million (Capacity: $47.8M; Safety: $6.6M; Academics: $15.6M)||$6.75|
|Q3: Technology levy - renew||$4 million per year||$0|
|Decrease in other levies if all three funding requests pass||($5.75/month)|
|Total Net Tax Impact *
* Estimated tax impacts are based on district's $350,000 average value home
Polls will be open 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 7. Visit pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us for your specific polling location or call 763-745-5070.
Absentee and early voting is available in person starting September 22:
You no longer need a special reason to vote absentee or take advantage of early voting.
- All school district eligible voters, except those living in the City of Minnetonka (see below), can vote early in person at the School District Administration Building, 210 County Road 101 in Wayzata:
- Monday-Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (September 22-November 3)
- Saturday, November 4: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Monday, November 6: 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Minnetonka residents can vote early in person at Minnetonka City Hall, 14600 Minnetonka Blvd:
- Monday-Friday: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (September 22-November 3)
- Saturday, November 4: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Monday, November 6: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Vote by Mail
Print and complete an absentee ballot application (PDF) and return it to Hennepin County as noted on the second page by mail, email or fax.
Mail your ballot back in the pre-paid, pre-addressed envelope that was provided with your ballot materials.
- Ballot must be received on or before election day.
- If you don't think your ballot will be received in time using regular mail, you may choose to pay for an express delivery service.
Learn more about voting – including how to register – at www.mnvotes.org.
- Wayzata School District creates task force in response to student growth – Sun Sailor, January 2, 2017
- Task force recommends new elementary school for Wayzata School District – Sun Sailor, February 7, 2017
- Construction of new elementary school proposed to Wayzata School Board – Sun Sailor, February 21, 2017
- Wayzata School Board prepares for district growth – Lake Shore Weekly, February 23, 2017
- Wayzata School District superintendent discusses budget pressures – Sun Sailor, May 17, 2017
- Wayzata School Board OKs 2017-18 budget, eyes funding requests – Sun Sailor, June 22, 2017
- Three referendum questions headed to Wayzata School District voters this fall – Sun Sailor, July 18, 2017
- School year opens above capacity for Wayzata school – CCX Media, September 6, 2017
- Elementary schools in Wayzata district under pressure as student population grows – Sun Sailor, September 15, 2017
- Early voting open for Wayzata School Board election, referendum questions – Sun Sailor, September 26, 2017
- 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?
For nearly a year, community-based enrollment growth and finance advisory groups have been working with district staff to analyze what students, staff and the schools need to maintain an excellent educational experience. The combination of enrollment growth, inadequate state funding and increasing costs led the School Board to unanimously approve placing three school funding requests on the November 7, 2017 ballot.
Some additional context for the decision:
- For years, state education funding has not kept up with inflation or with increasing educational costs and needs. School districts rely on State funding for the vast majority of their operating funds.
- Without an increase in the operating levy, the district projects annual cuts of $1 million per year.
- Since 2009, state funding increased an average of just over one percent per year while costs increased by three percent - forcing Wayzata Public Schools to cut more than $16 million from its operating budget during that same period.
- Almost all Minnesota school districts rely on locally approved operating levies to supplement the State education funding received.
- Wayzata's operating levy is not only lower than most comparable districts, it is nearly $500 less per student than the maximum allowed by state law.
- Our Citizen's Finance Advisory Committee (CFAC) recommended the way to provide long-term budget stability would be to increase operating levy to the state-authorized maximum.
- Increased operating funds are needed to maintain class sizes, keep up with our growing enrollment and provide students with the support services they need to succeed - through social workers, guidance counselors, health services and other social/emotional/learning needs.
- The last time we asked taxpayers to increase our operating levy was more than a decade ago (2005).
In addition to school board races, there will be three school funding requests:
Question 1: Renew and increase the operating levy to maintain class sizes, provide students with needed support services, manage growing enrollment and stabilize the district budget.
Question 2: Approve 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: Renew the technology levy to help maintain technology for students and staff to provide a personalized education and access to real-time educational resources
Demand for our schools has never been greater. 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 continued growth in the southern part of the district as older homes turnover to young families.
Wayzata Public Schools has cut $16 million in the past eight years. The district has done its best to keep cuts away from the classroom, but that becomes increasingly difficult. State education funding has not kept up with inflation, nor with increasing educational costs and needs. Inadequate funding is putting increased pressure on the district's operating budget, which funds teachers, classrooms and other district operating costs.
If all three questions are not approved by voters:
The district would face annual budget cuts of $1 million or more, impacting staff and programs districtwide.
- Elementary class sizes would increase and all elementary schools would become crowded.
- Schools would face cuts to student support services, such as social workers, guidance counselors, health services and other social/emotional/learning need support.
- We would be unable to replace aging classroom technology equipment and student devices as needed, impacting our ability to support personalized education and access to real-time educational resources for students.
- Traffic safety issues would remain at several schools.
- Updates to elementary and middle school academic spaces would not occur.
Yes, thanks to voter support in February 2014, we were able to build and open Meadow Ridge elementary school. Even though we opened Meadow Ridge in fall 2016, made boundary adjustments to right-size all our elementary schools in fall 2016 and will open an addition to Meadow Ridge in fall 2018 - we still need to add capacity at the elementary level to accommodate resident student growth. This is due to new housing developments that are going up 2-3 times more rapidly than developers had projected in the north, and continued growth in the southern part of the district as older homes turn over to young families. We are being as prudent and planful as possible, but demand for our schools from current and new residents is greater than ever before. The result is that our elementary buildings are already over capacity. Without a new elementary school, existing elementaries would become more crowded and class sizes would increase. The resident student growth is real and will continue to present space challenges.
While we have capacity issues at the elementary level, projections show we have adequate space at the middle schools and high school for several more years. This is due to the recent expansion of Wayzata High School and moving early childhood programs from Central Middle School to our Early Learning School to make space for middle school students. The only additional middle school space needed is to increase the kitchen and cafeteria space at Central Middle School, the largest of our three middle schools.
Due to continued enrollment growth, we created a broad-based community Growth Task Force in early 2017 to study the data and make a recommendation to our School Board about how best to manage our growth to meet students' needs. The Growth Task Force recommendation: "Due to our continued robust growth, the members of the community Growth Task Force believe that a new elementary school needs to be available as soon as possible." The Task Force also recommended that the Board maintain smaller class sizes districtwide and look at equity of facilities across the district.
By law, there are restrictions on how various types of school district revenue can be used. Essentially, bonds are for building and levies are for learning.
Bonds provide funds to build new schools, renovate existing schools and maintain our buildings. Bonds cannot be used for school or district operating costs. Operating levies fund school operations by paying for educational programming, teachers and other staff, classroom materials, utilities and transportation costs.
The bond funding in 2014 was also to address student enrollment growth primarily by expanding Wayzata High School and building a new elementary school, Meadow Ridge. Thanks to the high school addition, we anticipate there should be adequate space there for several years. However, even though we opened Meadow Ridge in fall 2016, made boundary adjustments to right-size all our elementary schools in fall 2016 and will open an addition to Meadow Ridge in fall 2018 - we still need to add capacity at the elementary level to accommodate resident student growth. This is due to new housing developments that are going up 2-3 times more rapidly than developers had projected in the north, and continued growth in the southern part of the district as older homes turn over to young families. Read more about elementary growth above in Question 8.
The $16 million was a combination of budget cuts, modifications and adjustments that were due to educational expenses and inflation outpacing both state and local revenue, as well as increasing student needs.
Over the last eight years, the District has reduced expenditures in the general fund in an effort to keep class sizes low. While the District typically sees its expenditures increase by approximately 3% per year, state funding formulas have provided increases in revenue ranging from 0% to 2% over the last eight years. With the resulting shortfall, the District's general fund budget required nearly $16 million of budget reductions, adjustments and modifications over the last eight years.
School districts in Minnesota rely heavily on state funding for the annual revenue that finances education. A school district is very limited in its ability to increase revenue sources. In the Wayzata school district, the school board and community demand that the administration operate prudently in financial matters and that translates into balancing the District's expenditures with its revenues.
The District works hard to achieve the community's operational objectives without significantly impacting direct student classroom instruction by using a number of strategies to balance the District's general fund budget. These budget balancing strategies have included:
- Cost containment - budget reductions, budget cuts, delay of certain expenditures
- Cost avoidance – energy efficiencies, automating processes
- Cost shifting – moving certain costs to another fund or dedicated funding source
- Class Sizes – increasing average direct classroom teacher ratio by 1 student
While the 2017 legislature provided 2% new revenue to the District for the next two years, that did not meet increasing expenditures nor did it make up for several years of little or no funding increases from the state. The result: an annual $1 million shortfall in the general fund budget for the foreseeable future. It is important to note that had the legislature provided at least a 3% increase in revenue over the last eight years, the District could be directing almost $16 million in additional resources to direct student instruction.
The district recently purchased land that could be used for a ninth elementary school if voters approve funding this fall. The land is located in Plymouth, north of 55 and east of County Road 101 N. A portion of the property, formerly owned by Speak the Word Church, could be used for a ninth school. The city of Plymouth has approved residential housing for the remaining portion of the property.