Strong schools. Strong Communities.
On November 5, 2019, residents of ISD 728 will decide whether to increase school funding through two referendum questions. The School Board unanimously approved holding a referendum after a year and a half of community input, research and planning.
What will be on the ballot?
☑︎ QUESTION 1
Increase the operating levy to fund school materials, student support and academic programs.
If approved, the $750 per student increase would generate approximately $11 million per year, providing more predictable and stable funding, while adding support and resources for students throughout the district.
The funds would be used for such things as:
- Supporting struggling students.
- Maintaining class sizes.
- Supporting student mental health.
- Updating curriculum and other classroom materials.
- Improving career and technical programs for students.
☑︎ QUESTION 2
Request $113 million in bond funding to address enrollment growth, deferred maintenance needs, flexible learning spaces and facility inequities.
⚠️Question 2 can only pass if Question 1 is approved
The new bonding money would be used to:
- Build a middle school to address enrollment growth.
- Address deferred maintenance needs across ISD 728, such as roofs, HVAC systems and parking lots, to maintain the community’s investment in our schools.
- Update indoor physical education and outdoor athletic facilities at all three traditional high schools to ensure they are equitable and adequate for students across the district.
- Create more flexible learning spaces across the district and at all levels to support different student learning styles.
If Voters APPROVE Both Questions
- Both questions would address classroom, budget and building needs across the district and at every level — benefiting ALL students.
- Funds would support our community’s values as outlined in the community-developed Strategic Plan and identified in community surveys.
- ISD 728 would have more stable funding while being able to:
- Address growing enrollment
- Improve equity and access to quality learning environments for ALL students
- Help protect our community’s investment in its schools.
If Voters DO NOT APPROVE Both Questions
- There would be continued budget cuts and inadequate funding for our school buildings, resulting in:
- Increased class sizes.
- Decreased academic support for struggling students.
- Fewer and outdated classroom resources for students.
- A growing list of deferred maintenance needs without adequate funding to address them.
- Spaces that are not equitable or adequate for students from one area of the district to another, such as classroom spaces, indoor physical education and outdoor athletic facilities.
- Elimination of some learning spaces dedicated to art, music and early childhood to accommodate student enrollment growth in grades K-12.
- Increased walking distance at all levels, because fewer students would be eligible for bus transportation.
- Boundary changes to accommodate space for enrollment growth.
- Some pressing building needs would be funded through a lease levy, which costs more for taxpayers and is more limited in what it can cover.
ISD 728 Compared to Other School Districts
ISD 728 is the 8th-largest school district in the state, yet receives the least amount of funding from the state when compared to the top 15 districts in terms of student enrollment. And, ISD 728’s spending is below the state average. Why? Our award-winning finance department has, over the past 20 years, consistently done more with less. But years of inflation outpacing funding increases from state and federal sources has placed increasing pressures on our budgets. We’ve attempted to manage those challenges as long as we can, but more is needed to keep ISD 728 among the top districts in the state in terms of student achievement. See the charts below:
Public schools, just like families, homes, and businesses have increasing costs every year. However, our State education funding hasn’t kept up with the costs of inflation. If State funding had kept up with inflation since 2003, ISD 728 would have received nearly $9 million more in 2018-2019. In addition, ISD 728, like other school districts, is required to pay for unfunded mandates related to special education each and every year. ISD 728 pays $10.5 million dollars annually out of the General Budget to covers costs that are not reimbursed from state or federal sources.
A Growing District
Our enrollment has grown 8% in the past 10 years, and it is projected to grow even more rapidly in the next 10 years. Projections estimate an additional 2,000 students in the next ten years or an average of about 200 students per year. In addition, a demographer recently reported that more than 2,300 new single-family homes are expected to be built within our district in the next three years. Our growth is exciting, but something that requires additional resources to serve all of our community's students.
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