School Board Continues Discussions Regarding Possible Fall Levy Referendum

July 29 School Board MeetingAt the July 29 Special School Board Meeting, the Lakeville Area Board of Education continued discussions regarding a possible fall levy referendum, which will be voted upon at the Regular School Board Meeting August 13. The Board indicated unanimous support for putting an operating levy question on the Nov. 5 ballot. 

At the Board’s request, Superintendent Michael Baumann provided a tax impact analysis for a potential operating levy. Based on a median value home of $370,000, Baumann said a property tax increase of $200 would align with the district’s recent community survey results and would represent what he referred to as the “‘no kidding’ needs to keep [the district] on a trajectory of success.” 

In total, the draft proposed operating levy would yield $4.27 million annually, amounting to $345 per pupil, in order to support multiple areas of concern and needs across the district. Superintendent Baumann and the Board continued to review four main areas that could be improved within an operating levy. The items include:

  1. Additional school safety and security staffing.
  2. Four full-time school counselors to ensure each Lakeville Area elementary school has a provider to support the mental health needs of students, which is estimated to cost $400,000 annually.
  3. A redesign of the middle school operating model to expand support and course offerings for all middle school students, which is estimated to cost $3 million annually. Baumann shared that funding would add approximately 20 full-time staff and would “bring us into a contemporary operating environment of which we have lagged in for over a decade.” The new model would move middle school operations from a six to a seven-period day and would give students access to STEM programming and elective options including world languages. Team-teaching, which was previously cut due to budget constraints, would be reinstated to ensure students are getting the academic, social and emotional support they need to be successful.
  4. Information technology (IT) support, specifically the hiring of an IT strategist and IT support personnel, to serve system platform and network operations is estimated to cost $600,000 annually. Additional IT support is needed to maintain staff and student devices, technology systems and infrastructure, including cybersecurity, fiber optic and disaster recovery requirements.

“This [levy] will give us the best shot for success, while being respectful of where we know our voters are at,” said Superintendent Baumann. “I believe this [recommendation] is putting the right priorities in the right place at the right time for optimum gain for our school district.” 

The Board also continued to discuss a possible capital levy. At the Board’s request, Superintendent Baumann presented a list of additional recommended district projects for review by priority with cost estimates and possible future funding sources. The Board indicated it was split 3:3 regarding the timing of a capital levy question.

The Administration is working to refine the proposal for a levy and will present a final recommendation for review by the Board at a Special Meeting on August 5 at 5 p.m. at Lakeville South High School. The Board is scheduled to vote on a Nov. 5 levy referendum decision on August 13 at the scheduled Regular School Board Meeting.

To watch a recording of the July 29 meeting, visit LETV. For meeting materials, visit Boardbook.

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