The operating levy that will be on this ballot is for just that – operating the district. This request is coming first, ahead of any future requests for facilities. This operating levy will focus on personnel, special costs (i.e. technology), programming for students, etc. We currently have an operating levy in-place that is set to expire soon. This request is to renew the current operating levy at a slightly higher amount.
There are two kinds of bonds, an operating levy and a building bond. A building bond referendum is a referendum meant to focus on facilities and grounds (this is not the current ballot issue). As we continue exploring options related to facilities, we may come to you again with a building bond request. However, the question on the upcoming ballot is not a building bond; the question on the upcoming ballot is solely a request to renew the existing operating levy amount at a slightly higher amount.
The revenue from this operating levy will be used for operating expenses such as, but not limited to:
- Attract and retain quality personnel
- Maintain and enhance the current essential program offerings
- Continue and sustain the current technology initiative into the future
- Offer additional enrichment services and opportunities for our students
We mustn’t forget that we already have an operating levy. However, our current levy will expire shortly and it will not be enough to keep the District moving forward. Our expenses have increased and funding by the government has not kept pace with the needs of school districts. Our current levy is $701.18. This referendum would revoke the School District’s existing referendum revenue authorization and replace it with $1425.18 per pupil.
School districts rely on local taxpayers to help fund their school districts. For fiscal year 2022, $4,454,475.44, or 86% of our funding, currently comes from state/federal aid with $696,010.32, or 14%, coming from taxpayer levy dollars.
Our current operating levy will expire soon. It is imperative that we pass an operating levy to be able to ensure program stability and retention of quality staff. The operating levy funds being requested are for operations. Should this fail in the Fall of 2021, we will turn around and go back out to a vote as soon as possible in 2022. Going further into the future without passing the levy could result in reduction of teaching staff or cutting of programs and opportunities.
As of September 7, 2021 (the first day of school), our total student enrollment is 490. Here is a breakdown by grade and a comparison to the count at the end of the 2020-2021 school year:
Grade - 2020-2021 | 2021-2022
Kindergarten - 33 | 30
1st Grade - 35 | 31
2nd Grade - 32 | 34
3rd Grade - 39 | 34
4th Grade - 41 | 43
5th Grade - 35 | 38
6th Grade - 43 | 47
7th Grade - 43 | 44
8th Grade - 41 | 42
9the Grade - 40 | 39
10th Grade - 41 | 41
11the Grade - 42 | 41
12th Grade - 37 | 36
Kindergarten - 5th Grade - 215 | 210
6th Grade-12th Grade - 287 | 280
Yes, there are two public meetings scheduled in October. Both meetings will be held in the gymnasium at the Buffalo Lake Campus. The meetings are scheduled for:
- Thursday, October 14, 2021 at 7:00pm
- Monday, October 18, 2021 at 7:30pm
The same information will be presented at each meeting. However, the questions from the audience may be different. Please come to one or both meetings to have your questions answered and receive important information on the significance of passing this operating levy.
We are currently working through negotiations. A new teacher starting at a BA Step 1 is comparable to other schools. Once we get to Step 5, we start to fall off. The further we go down on the salary schedule, we become incomparable to other schools. This is the reason for our lack of retention of teachers after obtaining tenure.
A cost analysis was conducted using 120 random school districts throughout the state of Minnesota. At the incoming BA step 1, we rank 76/120, BA +30, step 5 changes the ranking to 99/120. At a Masters level, step 10, we once again drop to 103/120. These are significant number changes.
Would all students fit into either building? Yes. Would it be a comfortable fit? Maybe. There are many factors that will go into a decision to go to one building. Years ago, both buildings held K-12 at one time. With that being said, we may be “legal” when it comes to the number of attendees to a building, but the current reality is that Buffalo Lake square footage is much smaller. That building also does not house a regulation size gymnasium for our varsity basketball teams. A full building task force will need to be set up to look at pros and cons to each building in order to meet the needs of the students.
Yes, we have met with BOLD and collectively agreed that neither district is ready to consolidate. Many factors go into joining districts. Our enrollment is stable so far. We do, however, combine with BOLD for some activities.
Open enrollment into the District | Open enrollment out of the District
GSL = 3 | GSL = 6
BOLD = 15 | BOLD = 15
GFW = 6 | GFW = 9
| Sibley East = 2
| Hutchinson = 77
| New Century Academy = 20
| New Discoveries Montessori = 6
| Crow River ALC = 2
| ACGC = 5
| MN Connections Academy = 2
| MN Virtual Academy = 1
| Falcon View Connections = 1
| Albert Lea Online = 1
The funds from the operating levy are used for operations of the District.
This operating levy will focus on personnel, special costs (i.e. technology), programming for students, enrichment opportunities, etc. We currently have an operating levy in-place that is set to expire soon. This request is to renew the current operating levy at a higher amount.
The money will be invested in student needs in order to provide for the District’s future.
It would be great if we could get our teachers at least in the top 50%. They are very well deserving! We are in the middle of teacher negotiations right now so an exact number is not finalized as of yet.
This is a very difficult question to answer. 100% would benefit the students, but actual percentages are difficult. Same as a home budget, these numbers will be subject to change as costs continue to rise. This year I could tell you that 25% would go to gifted education, but then find that curriculum comes in higher than that. I could tell you 35% goes to staff/teachers until we get five more students needing additional support and I have to hire more help to cover student needs, I now am over my planned percentages. General heating costs go up, we have to replace a bus, food supplies are low creating higher costs, etc., all these things can change a budget or percentage very quickly. Regardless, kids are 100% benefiting. High quality curriculum, retention and attraction of quality teachers and support staff, safe environments, safe transportation, increased programming and activities, etc.
CRT is not currently being taught at BLHS. Minnesota State Standards for Social Studies is currently in the draft stage and will not come into effect until at least 2024. With the strong opposition by many, the state standard committee halted movement on the social standards pending more work needed. Should CRT become part of the MN State Standards, all schools will not have a choice whether to teach it or not.