On Nov. 5, School District 112 is seeking approval of two referendum questions.

Question 1 asks for renewal of a $9.1 million annual operating levy. Question 2 asks for approval of $2.45 million per year for six years to fund security and technology enhancements.

The Chaska Herald endorses the passage of both District 112 referendum questions

QUESTION 1

The failure of Question 1 would have a damaging effect on education within District 112. Cutting $9.1 million would require the district to cut teaching staff and increase class sizes.

The impact to educational programs and extra-curricular activities would be profound — elimination of electives, school resource officers and middle school orchestra, just to name a few.

The district asked for a renewal of an existing levy, so its passage would not increase existing taxes. District officials also have exercised restraint by not seeking to maximize the amount of the operating referendum allowed by the state.

The reduction of educational spending by $9.1 million annually should be considered unacceptable by all eastern Carver County residents.

A no vote on Question 1 would undoubtedly push families to look for open-enrollment alternatives and further erode state per-pupil funding coming to the district.

QUESTION 2

In 2011, the district’s request for about $20 million in funding over 10 years drew our rebuke. At that time, the district hadn’t adequately made its case.

This year the district has created a comprehensive outline of where it would spend $2.45 million a year during a six-year time frame.

The first year, most funding would go toward security. No security is failsafe. Unfortunately, secured entrances didn’t stop the Sandy Hook Elementary School or Red Lake Senior High School shootings. However, we welcome anything that would help make our schools more secure — and keep visitors from wandering in without any vetting.

The next five years, funding would go toward technology.

The district has initiated pilot “PowerUp” projects that allow teachers to use technology at a grassroots level to help personalize learning so students can advance at the appropriate pace.

The shorter timeline of the levy gives a few years to demonstrate results to the public. The district should consider this a “trial.” In six years, the district should be able to show results of increased technology use.

While the technology/security question would cost money, the tax increase would be offset by other state Legislature and School Board actions. So, if the questions are approved, owners of lower-valued homes would still see their annual taxes drop by a few dollars, while owners of homes valued more than $250,000 would have tax increases of a few dollars. If both questions fail, the owner of a $285,000 home would save $135 for the year.

That tax savings would come at the expense of a significant step back in the quality of District 112 public schools.

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