Questions & Answers

Referendum 2015 Frequently Asked Questions

What is Lakeville Area Public Schools asking for?

Lakeville Area Public Schools is proposing two questions to voters. Approval of Question 1 will provide capital funding to:

  • Improve student safety systems
  • Provide science, technology, engineering and mathematics resources and career pathways
  • Replace core technologies such as computer labs and printers and increase access to digital tools.

Approval Question 2 will provide funding needed to:

  • Reduce class sizes in core high school subjects
  • Restore elementary art programming
  • Restore fifth grade band opportunities

What is a capital levy?

capital levy gives school districts the authority to spread out the purchase of items such as curriculum and technology over a specified number of years. The state requires that a 10-year plan be submitted and approved by the Commissioner of Education at the Minnesota Department of Education. For example: The 2015 capital levy would provide $350,000 a year for 10 years for resources and equipment for Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics (STEM). It also includes $100,000 a year for 10 years for safety and security improvements. It also includes $1.5 million a year for technology upgrades that will enable the district to replace obsolete technology, such as computers in labs.

What is an operating levy?

An operating levy gives school districts the ability to levy dollars over and above the per pupil funding allocation provided by the state of Minnesota. These dollars are used to maintain or enhance the quality of existing educational and instruction programs and services. For example: The 2015 operating  levy proposed by Lakeville Area Public Schools would generate funds to reduce class size at the high school by hiring 7 full-time teachers creating 35 sections. It also would allow the district to reinstate elementary art and fifth grade band.

How do the levies differ?

School districts are more restricted in how they can use funds raised through capital levies. For example, school districts cannot use funding raised through operating levies to reduce class size.

Factors such as class size may be affected indirectly, however. If capital needs exist but a capital levy is not passed, it could force the district to use general funds that otherwise might be used to reduce class sizes by hiring more teachers.

Why is Lakeville Area Public Schools asking for funds for technology?

Currently, there is no consistent funding source for technology, so providing updates to computer labs and access to digital tools must rely on general fund dollars. Our current computer labs and core technology are approaching 8 to 12 years old and are in need of replacement to meet current demands. The district will need to replace core technology after 2015-16 because devices have become obsolete.

Lakeville Area Public Schools is the only district out of the top 20 in the Twin Cities metropolitan area that does not have a capital levy for technology.

If Question 1 is approved, what would funding provide?

A successful capital levy would provide a dedicated source of funding to update technology on an appropriate schedule and increase students’ access to digital tools. The funding would provide updated computer labs, infrastructure, and classroom technology. It also would allow the the district to plan a refresh cycle to update technology within the next 10 years. Further, it would allow for the addition of shared sets of digital tools for teachers to use when they feel they are the best tool to support learning. The district is not seeking to provide a device for every child. Rather, Lakeville Area Public schools supports using digital tools in a balanced approach with its already successful traditional teaching and learning methods.

Lakeville Area Public Schools asked voters to approve an operating levy in 2013 in part to reduce class size. What happened with the funding that was approved?

In 2013, voters approved a levy referendum. This enabled the district to avoid additional budget cuts, lower class sizes at the elementary school level and introduce science-technology-engineering-math (STEM) programming at the elementary school level.

Why is Lakeville Area Public Schools coming to voters again so soon?

For a decade, voters rejected levy referendums. In 2013, Lakeville Area Public Schools conducted public opinion research to test voters’ tax tolerance and asked for what was likely to be approved. Once approved, that enabled the district to avoid additional cuts, reduce class sizes at the elementary schools and introduce science-technology-engineering-math (STEM) programming at the elementary levels. That funding was not sufficient to reduce growing class sizes at the high school level.

Where can I learn more about Lakeville Area Public Schools’ requests?

Visit our website and social media to get the facts about the operating and capital levy referendum questions. Watch the presentation during the Oct. 13 Board of Education meeting via the district’s cable access on demand feature.

The district also held public forums in September and October: 

  • 6:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 21, auditorium, Kenwood Trail Middle School, 19455 Kenwood Trail — watch the video
  • 6:30 p.m., Oct. 19, Kenwood Trail Middle School, 19455 Kenwood Trail — watch the video

Video of the public forums also is available via Lakeville Area Public Schools’ cable access channel 188 and on demand.

What is STEM and why is Lakeville Area Public Schools asking for funding to support it?

STEM is an interdisciplinary approach to learning and teaching that combines science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM classes focus on problem solving real-world issues by working on projects using real-world tools and experiences. One reason we are asking for the funding is because STEM was one of the top three areas that our community and parent stakeholders cited STEM as being important to them. In addition, STEM is the fastest growing job market. Over the last 10 years, growth in STEM jobs was three times faster than non-STEM jobs. Eighteen out of the 20 fastest growing occupations will be tied to the STEM disciplines. (Source: DEED) Eleven percent of new job growth from 2009-2019 in Minnesota will come from STEM occupations.

What will the STEM funding provide?

As a result of the last levy, we added STEAM (or STEM with A added for art design) to the elementary classrooms in first through fifth grade. Each student worked directly with a highly-trained STEAM specialist. Our students are learning through a hands-on, problem-based curriculum entitled Engineering is Elementary from Boston University. All students have access to it. We are asking for funding to expand programming and to replenish materials used each year.

At the middle level, we are looking to implement Project Lead the Way at each grade level at each school so that all students will have access to a comprehensive STEM curriculum through in grades six through eight. 

At the high school, we currently have the STEM Academy. We focus on five career pathways: industrial technologies, computer design/programming, engineering, environmental engineering and bio-engineering and medical. Funding will support the needed tools/resources to run a quality program in each of those pathways that helps our students be future ready for our technology-driven global economy.

Does the middle school STEM resource include only supplies and materials, or does it include staff, too?

The law spells out clearly what capital levies can and cannot be used for. The district’s 2015 capital levy request includes $350,000 a year for 10 years for STEM resources. Hiring staff would come from the district’s general fund.

Is STEM only for college-bound students?

No. STEM – which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – is an educational model that teaches the principles of engineering through applied science, technology and mathematics. The skills students learn, such as problem-solving and team work, translate into preparing students for entering the workforce out of high school or going on to two- or four-year college or vocational programs.

Over the last 10 years, growth in STEM jobs was three times greater than non-STEM jobs, according to the Minnesota High Tech Association. That growth is expected to continue. The district’s goal is to better prepare students for career opportunities in those growing fields.

What will funding for security measures entail?

If approved, Question 1 will provide $100,000 per year for 10 years to enhance and sustain safety and security measures throughout Lakeville Area Public Schools. This includes enhanced visitor management systems and improved automated lock down controls. It also includes funding to enhance video monitoring in and around District facilities.

What would the tax impact be on an average home? How can I find an estimate of what it would cost my family?

Approval of the capital and operating levy referendum questions would result in a total tax impact of about $10 a month on an average-value home in our district. In Dakota County, the average value home is $257,000; it is $237,000 in Scott County.

Will the levy fund Orchard Lake and Impact Academy?

Under the proposed operating levy, funding to restore elementary art instruction with art specialists and bring back fifth grade band would be applicable to all elementary schools. This includes Orchard Lake.

Under the proposed capital levy, all elementary, middle and high schools would benefit from funding designated for STEM resources, security equipment and digital tools for learning.

The levy does not include specific funding for Orchard Lake or its innovative, teacher-driven model of teaching and learning called Impact Academy. Impact Academy does not receive funding for teaching and learning above and beyond what other elementary schools in the district receive. The district has invested $23,000 in capital improvements to foster the learning model. Orchard Lake is the oldest building in use in Lakeville Area Public Schools and the district has invested $1.7 million into the physical plant required to keep the building running.

How can the district ask for money when it is investing in Impact Academy?

Lakeville Area Public Schools is committed to keeping the Impact Academy Program. Some additional modifications to the interior of Orchard Lake may be needed. Depending on options, these costs ranged from $499,000 to $546,000. After reviewing options, the Board of Education directed the district administrators to study options to reduce costs.

It is important to note that Impact Academy does NOT receive funding for teaching and learning above and beyond what other elementary schools in the district receive. The district has invested $23,000 in capital improvements to foster the learning model. Orchard Lake is the oldest building in use in Lakeville Area Public Schools. A portion of the investment the district has made into the physical plant would have been needed regardless of educational model employed.

Additional Information

Campaign finance reports

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