by Mike Knaak
Ahead of a Nov. 5 vote on an operational levy, the Sartell-St. Stephen school district has scheduled a series of information meetings.
The district is asking voters to approve a 10-year funding increase of $1.77 million per year. A similar measure failed last November. If approved, property taxes will increase $74.30 for each $100,000 of taxable market value.
The meetings are as follows:
• 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1, Pine Meadow Elementary School.
• 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2, St. Stephen City Hall.
• 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 7, Oak Ridge Elementary School.
• 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9, Sartell High School.
• 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23, Sartell Middle School.
• 9 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, Sartell Community Center.
District leaders say the additional money is needed to maintain current class sizes; support operations of six school buildings including custodians, food service, heating/cooling and grounds maintenance; and expand pre-K through grade 12 academic and extra-curricular programming.
The levy request is part of the district’s long-term strategic plan. This fall, the district’s new high school opened. The 1993 high school is being remodeled now to accommodate middle school students in grades six through eight. It will open next fall.
The current middle school will become an intermediate school for grades three to five in the fall of 2020. Next fall, the two current elementary buildings will house Pre-K through second grade.
The district ranks 324 out of 330 Minnesota school districts for overall school funding per pupil. School leaders point out the district is “property poor” with few commercially taxed properties.
If voters approve the levy, the state of Minnesota will provide 39 percent of the $1.77 million requested increase.
For more detailed information on the proposal, school finances and voting details, go to www.sartell.k12.mn.us/2019levy.
Polling places for the special election are:
• Celebration Lutheran Church, 1500 Pinecone Road N., Sartell.
• Sartell City Hall, 125 Pinecone Road N., Sartell.
• St. Stephen City Hall, 1 Sixth Ave. SE., St. Stephen.
Absentee ballots are available starting Sept. 20.