Orono Schools is grateful for the community support and local tax revenue that are critical to providing an outstanding learning experience and efficient district operations. The current technology levy, approved by voters in 2011, will expire in 2021. Minnesota does not provide school districts with categorical aid for technology; many districts rely on technology levies for these essential dollars.
What does a “yes” vote mean in 2020?
A voter-approved referendum in November 2020 would revoke/cancel the existing levy of 2.539% and replace it with a new authorization of 4.516% for the next 10 years. The table, below, shows your new monthly estimate based on property value. The green oval highlights the small monthly increase over what you have been paying. For a median-value home in the district, valued at $400,000, there would be an additional tax investment of $6.25 per month. You can enter your property value in the Ehlers Tax Impact Calculator to get a specific estimate. The proposed authorization would raise approximately $1,988,720 for taxes payable in 2021, the first year it is to be levied. A “yes” vote ensures that the technology funds Orono receives through the levy will continue for the next 10 years.
Calculate the tax impact for your property
Ehlers has created a convenient tool so you can calculate the tax impact for your specific property. If approved, the current levy will be revoked and replaced with the new authorization. This is not a new levy on top of an existing one.
How does Orono Schools compare to neighboring districts?
Technology costs are part of life today in the home and workplace. According to the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), the average technology cost (internet, digital TV, phone, digital subscriptions) per person, per month in the U.S. is $166; for a family of four, $664.
In the past few years, Orono Schools per-pupil technology spending has lagged behind neighboring districts. To keep programs, infrastructure, and teaching and learning tools up to date, Orono Schools is asking for an increase in the voter-approved technology levy from the authority approved in 2011. The tables, below, show current levy dollars and proposed levy dollars compared to neighboring districts.
A voter-approved levy in 2020 will improve the funding outlook and place Orono Schools in the middle of the range.
What does a “no” vote mean in 2020?
If the technology levy is not approved by voters, funding will end with the 2021 fiscal year.
Technology needs, aging infrastructure and obsolete devices cannot be ignored as they play a critical role in academic and business operations in any school district; therefore, funds to support technology will have to come from the general fund. Technology needs will compete with classroom needs, impacting the district’s ability to deliver the teaching and learning programs students need to be prepared for the future.
The state’s education funding formula that contributes to Orono’s general fund has not kept up with rising costs or inflation in recent years. Orono Schools tightly manages its general fund—within 2% of its annual budget year after year—to fulfill student needs and operational costs while providing an excellent educational experience. There is minimal flexibility to reallocate dollars from the general fund to technology. The district will be forced to make difficult decisions to balance the budget.