Rochester Public Schools push referendum - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Heidi Wigdahl

Rochester Public Schools push referendum


ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC--DT) -- Rochester Public Schools are asking for help this election day, November 2.

Voters will see two questions on their ballot, making up a proposed operating referendum.

The district might have to slash $5 million from its budget, unless voters approve higher taxes in these referendums.

"The district has been experiencing some financial difficulties because of the condition of the state's budget and has had to make $13.8 million in budget cuts over the last two years and needs to address another $5 million in cuts for next year," Executive Director of Finance, Larry Smith said.

Two questions will be on the ballot. The first asks to revoke the district's existing taxing authority of about $463 per child and set a new rate that would generate about $806 per child. The second question asks approval of an additional tax authority that would increase the district's operating revenue by roughly $6.4 million per year.

Although the increase in taxes is an issue, some parents are hoping both questions will pass in order to preserve school programs.

"My family moved from another district to this district and our daughter, who had a full volleyball schedule, came here and she was already limited to four games," says Karl Laack. "So we don't want anymore cuts on that. We want to make sure that our kids have all the opportunities they could possibly have," he said.

However, others are worried about the lack of transparency in where the money will be invested.

"I think supporting education is very important and supporting our kids in this district is huge but you cannot pass a referendum every year to just meet your budgeting goals," Rochester Tea Party member, Cindy Maves said.

The school district is hosting three referendum community meetings. All meetings will be held at the Edison Administration Building (615 Seventh Street SW, Rochester).

The dates are: Thursday, Oct. 14, 7:00 p.m., Monday, Oct. 18, 5:00 p.m. and Wednesday, Oct. 27, 6:00 p.m.




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