you live in a SEE district the answer is yes.
SEE districts tend to be low property wealth districts because they lack
significant industrial and commercial development. The SEE's pizza video shows that the
education funding system in Minnesota treats a student from Hometown
differently than a student from Businessville.
In this conversation, Hometown districts are low property wealth
districts and Businessville districts are high property wealth districts.
Why do school districts ask their voters to support local school levies?
State funding for
K-12 public schools has not kept pace with rising costs and annual
inflation. Districts rely on school
levies just to maintain current programs or reduce budget cuts. Over 90% of districts have voter-approved
school levies to continue funding basic education opportunities.
How does living in a Businessville or Hometown
school district impact the ability to raise dollars for my school by passing a
school districts, significant commercial and/or industrial development
increases the tax base to spread the school levy burden and lowers the overall
taxpayer cost for a school levy for all property owners in that district.
Hometown residents bear the full
cost of school levies and are less able to support higher school levy amounts
for their schools. There is a direct
correlation that shows the lower the taxpayer cost for a school levy dollar,
the higher the school levy will be in that district.
Residents in lower property wealth districts pay two or three times more for a
school levy dollar which limits the school district’s ability to obtain the
funding it needs. Conversely, to provide
the same level of school levy support, the school levy property taxes in lower
property wealth districts school will be two or three times more than in a high
property wealth district.
should I be concerned about the disparities in revenue that school districts
can raise for their students through voter-approved school levies?
amount of school levy revenue varies among districts across Minnesota from $0
per pupil to near $2,000 per pupil. This
disparity creates a significant opportunity gap for children based merely on
where they live. Obviously, schools with
hundreds or thousands of dollars more per pupil in revenue are able to maintain
smaller class sizes and provide rich curriculums including art and music, and
foreign languages at the elementary level; integrated technology; a broad array
of AP and other rigorous courses; strong early intervention programs and much
more that will better prepare their students for college and career
What is Equalization aid
and how can it fix the problem?
Legislature established equalization in early 1990’s to make school levies more
affordable in low property wealth districts.
For every school levy dollar passed in a lower property wealth school
district, the state paid a portion to lower the tax burden on local taxpayers. The intent of equalization is to make the
taxpayer cost for a levy dollar uniform throughout the state.
The disparity in the cost for a school levy dollar has resulted because the
equalization formula has not been updated since 1993. Increasing the equalization formula will reduce this disparity.
Who can fix the
problem and create local taxpayer fairness with potential to reduce the education
constitution requires the Legislature to “provide a general and uniform system
of public schools”. A school funding
system that allows a disparity of hundreds of dollars per pupil in funding
between neighboring school districts is not uniform. The Legislature needs to fix this problem to
meet its constitutional obligation towards our schools.
The state Legislature and Governor must increase equalization to lower the cost
of local school levies in property poor districts so that they have equal
access to school levy revenue for their students. Increasing the equalizing will lower the property taxes in lower property
wealth districts with a school levy in place.
will not increase funding for local schools.
However, increased equalization allows lower property wealth school
districts to ask their communities to support higher levels of school levy
revenue at a lower cost to the each local taxpayer similar to high property
Why hasn’t this
already been done?
equalization will cost the state money.
With scare resources and many demands, the equalization issue has not
found enough support at the Legislature.
However, legislators are hearing from their constituents frustrated with
recent spikes in property taxes resulting from 2011 legislative changes to homesteading. Regardless of who is control at the
Legislature after the November elections, local property tax relief will be a
priority in the 2013 Legislative Session.
Now is the time to elevate increased equalization as the preferred way
to provide property tax relief as it will also enhance educational
would like to frame this as an argument between funding schools or funding equalization. That is a false choice. Education funding and tax fairness are two
different issues impacting the quality of a student's education and must both
be dealt with at the Legislature.
What can I do to
If you are saying to yourself,
“Somebody needs to do something about this!” You are that “somebody”. Change will happen when enough people demand
to be heard. Together we can make a
Your local state legislators need to hear from YOU. Email or call your legislators to let them
know that increased equalization must be a priority during the legislative session.
up to receive SEE’s electronic legislative updates that are sent weekly during the Legislative
Session. SEE will also send out action alerts at critical times during the
session when decisions are being made on these important education and tax
fairness issues so you can again contact your legislator. Sign up online, www.schoolsforequity.org.