On the Ballot: Rochester Public School referendum hopes to incre - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

On the Ballot: Rochester Public School referendum hopes to increase dollars per pupil

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -

Absentee voting was underway at the Edison Building Monday, and the only issue on the ballot has to do with the Rochester Public School offices right down the hall.

Rochester Public Schools is asking for more money from the public to increase its operating budget. It would increase spending per student from about $578 to roughly $836 for 10 years, subject to inflation. The added price tag would bring RPS closer to the state average for student spending.

"Basically it's going to allow us to not have to make reductions. And if you make reductions, you're going to impact students either by class sizes or course offerings,” said Superintendent Michael Muñoz.

"It's funding that we think will allow us to sustain the kind of programming we're offering now through the 2020 school year."

If the levy passes, someone in a $200,000 home would pay about $183 more per year in property taxes.

If the referendum does not pass, the district will need to cut $3.8 million in the upcoming school year, and approximately $4 million each year after.

There has been some push back. The Rochester Tea Party Patriots put together an eerily similar poster blasting the levy, saying Rochester Public Schools spends too much on the wrong things like iPads, consultants, pay raises, and unnecessary staff members.

RPS dismisses those claims.

"Anytime you're talking taxes, there's always individuals that you're going to get a little push back, but it's nothing we didn't anticipate,” Muñoz said.

Back in 2010, a referendum on the ballot for RPS did not pass. The last time a property tax levy was passed benefiting RPS was in 2006.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. You can find your polling place here.

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