In Southwest Minneapolis, we have a great sense of pride in our public schools. Southwest High School and Washburn High School are some of the best in the state, and our communities have always supported our kids in public schools. We have to continue to do that this year. After the 2016-2017 school year, the current Minneapolis Public Schools referendum is set to expire, and that’s why voters must vote YES to renew it on Election Day.
Referendum dollars are critical to the success of our schools. The referendum accounts for nearly 13 percent of the school district’s budget, which equals $74 million in the 2016-2017 school year. That provides funding for 591 classroom teachers and over 150 support staff, including teachers for English language learners. Imagine if the district were to lose hundreds of classroom teachers. Class sizes would balloon and our kids would never receive the attention in class that they deserve.
To show how important the referendum is to our local schools, here are some allotment numbers from the current referendum to schools in Southwest Minneapolis for the 2016-2017 school year: Southwest High School receives $2,739,096, Washburn High School receives $2,466,127, Anthony Middle School receives $1,261,301, Armatage Elementary School receives $931,850 and Jefferson Community School receives $1,063, 635. That’s millions of dollars for only five schools alone. It would be catastrophic if our schools and other schools throughout Minneapolis were forced to cut millions.
As city council members, we are sensitive to the costs that are associated with referendums. This referendum will simply renew the existing levy with no tax increase. Even with inflation factored in, there will be no new taxes because the property tax base in Minneapolis has grown over the past eight years. We know that our neighborhoods and tax base are growing in part because of our investments in schools.
Minneapolis Public Schools has also made some great strides recently by recruiting and increasing the number of teachers of color. Let’s make sure successes like this continue.
Together, let’s continue to support our schools and the 36,000 Minneapolis Public Schools kids attending them. Join us in supporting each of our local schools by voting YES for the referendum on Election Day.
City Council members Lisa Bender (Ward 10) and Linea Palmisano (Ward 13)
[CORRECTION: An earlier version of this letter included incorrect school allotment figures that were lower than the actual allotments. Donald McFarland, manager of the Vote YES for Kids campaign, said he provided in the incorrect allotment amounts to the city council members in error.]