Thanks to our community’s support and generosity, we had a successful referendum in November. The result will be increased revenue beginning next year to help meet our students’ academic needs, our program goals and our operating costs. As communicated prior to the November vote, the increased operating levy revenue will help support these goals:
Maintain or reduce class sizes
Continue with specialist teachers
Expand mental health support
Maintain or expand real world work experiences at middle and/or high school
Provide more financial stability
Commitment #1: Maintain or reduce class sizes (updated 4.20.20)
In light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, the Alexandria School Board committees met last week to discuss the best course of action regarding the district’s commitment to reducing class size, which included implementing boundary changes and expanding Woodland elementary school classroom spaces. Due to the tremendous amount of uncertainty our school community is experiencing, the Board determined the prudent thing to do is to pause on any action addressing elementary class sizes or facility changes based on these considerations:
- The need to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, including financial uncertainty on the part of state, district and local taxpayers.
- The need for time to study school enrollment trends and community growth, measured against previous projections.
- The need to ensure a sense of stability for students, staff and families. There is comfort in what we know, so allowing students to ‘stay put’ when school resumes is our best course of action at this time.
Given the considerations outlined above, at the April 20 meeting the Alexandria School Board unanimously approved rejecting the bids for the Woodland renovation project, keeping the district services at the current location and rescinding the boundary changes for the 2020-21 school year. The School Board believes it will be important to monitor enrollment, community growth and the state of the economy before deciding to move forward with those initiatives.
Commitment #2: Continue with specialist teachers in elementary, such as music, art and science
Referendum dollars will allow for programs to continue as they currently are, with additional staff now being added to the Woodland building to accommodate the additional sections planned for the 2020-21 school year.
Commitment #3: Expand mental health support
The district was notified recently that we would receive one-time revenue in the amount of $147,000 from the State of Minnesota for the purpose of increasing safety in schools. This allowed us to take action in the current school year, rather than waiting for the referendum funds to kick in next year. The board took action to approve adding 2.5 additional mental health/counselor positions that will be funded with this one-time money for the current school year. We plan to maintain those positions in future years, thanks to additional revenue from the voter-approved operating levy.
Commitment #4: Maintain or expand real world work experiences at middle and/or high school
The board approved seven new courses at Alexandria Area High School for the 2020-21 school year that will give students additional real world work experiences and go deeper into programming within some of the college and/or career pathways.
Commitment #5: Provide more financial stability
Last month the district was delighted to learn that the tax impact for the approved operating levy funding will be 43% lower than originally estimated for property owners in 2020. The lower-than-expected tax impact is due to community growth and higher property values. Exact property tax impacts will vary based on individual home values and other factors. This is great news for our community! We are also seeking the most fiscally responsible manner in which to relocate the District Offices and Community Education out of Woodland Elementary to make more space for kids. More to come as plans unfold.
We promise to keep you informed of our progress on fulfilling our referendum commitments as decisions and plans unfold and invite you to check back for page updates.