Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) is deeply grateful for and humbled by the overwhelming support that the citizens of Minneapolis have given the school district. We believe that this support demonstrates that the people of Minneapolis value our work and have confidence that we can make the improvements necessary to raise student achievement. One of our school district’s sources of support and funding is the property tax levy.
MPS is committed to using its levy authority to meet the needs of present and future students and to only levy for what schools need. We are proposing a 4 percent increase in the school district levy, which would take effect for property taxes payable in 2013. The school district currently levies for about $165.7 million. The 4 percent increase would bring this amount to $172.4 million. The median Minneapolis home value is $171,000. If you own a home at that value, the school portion of your property taxes is expected to increase about $61 per year ($5 per month). The school board will vote on the increase in December.
The increased levy would enable us to prepare for growing enrollment by investing in facilities to maintain the physical quality of our schools and creating additional space for more classrooms, as well as managing class size. We began discussing the levy at our area meetings last week, created a website devoted to informing the public about the levy and are working with our community partners to host engagement opportunities from now through December.
We recognize that even a small increase can be a burden on some taxpayers. MPS has the authority to levy for up to an 8 percent increase; limiting the levy increase to 4 percent rather than using our full authority requires that we balance the pressure on property taxpayers with the needs of the school district. While this will require that we limit our capital renewal and capital improvement plans, it will enable us to:
Address increasing enrollment and related requirements for increased programs, services and facility needs;
Manage class size, especially for schools with the greatest needs;
Fund much needed capital renewal for building maintenance;
Meet the needs of growing enrollment by creating capacity for building improvement;
Realign ‘pay-as-you-go’ levy and bonds for capital improvements; and
Pay for the employee retirement fund through the general levy over a three-year period of time, increasing funds available for educational program and services.
Minneapolis residents have shown that they understand a strong school system strengthens the city for all of us. Again, we greatly appreciate this steadfast support. Please visit our website at mpls.k12.mn.us for more information about the proposed levy, to take a survey and to learn about opportunities to share your views.
Bernadeia H. Johnson is superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools.