Lakeville Area residents surveyed this spring indicate support for a local property tax increase this fall to maintain and expand learning opportunities for students and to avoid future budget cuts. Findings show 56 percent of respondents support a local property tax increase at the $200 level based on a $335,000 average home in the district.
The community survey was conducted this May and June and included interviews with 420 randomly selected residents representative of key demographic groups, and was based on a +/- 4.7 percent margin of error. The results were presented at the July 9 Regular School Board meeting by Dr. Kelly Smith of Baker Tilly.
Support levels average about five points higher than the 2018 survey. After the respondent was informed about the issues surrounding a potential operating levy increase, resident support increased 10 points, from 49 percent initially to 59 percent. The highest support by demographic group came from district parents, residents under 35 years of age, less active/new voters, those with graduate degrees, and households with an annual income over $150,000 per year.
Data trends indicate that Lakeville Area Schools will face budget shortfalls in the upcoming years. Basic education revenue is the primary source of general operating funds for school districts and state aid has not kept pace with inflation. In addition, state and federal aid continues to underfund special education services. Consequently, Lakeville Area Schools and school districts statewide have been met with financial strain often relying more on school levies to maintain services and programs.
Residents were also presented with improvements that could possibly be funded with a levy increase. The majority of residents indicated support for safety and security improvements, increased mental health support, expanded middle school course offerings, and expanded learning spaces. There was lower support for computer network improvements and expanding indoor and outdoor physical education spaces.
As in years past, residents continued to give high marks to the district for overall performance. Of respondents who gave a grade, 87 percent graded the district overall as A and B, and 68 percent graded the district as A and B for financial management.
For more information about the 2019 community survey, review the July 9 School Board presentation: