Eastern Carver County School District is asking our community to approve another referendum on Nov. 5, citing a need to build a new elementary school to keep pace with growth projections.
Our newest school (Carver Elementary) opened just two years ago after we approved a 2015 property tax increase to ensure we met the future space needs of a growing student body.
That referendum allowed our school district to build the new elementary school and expand classroom capacity for an additional 1,100 students. However, the district has not grown as projected.
Only 156 new elementary students have enrolled to fill the new capacity. In fact our district-wide elementary school capacity is currently for 4,679 students with only 3,588 elementary students enrolled. This means that today our district can accommodate 1,091 additional students! This exceeds the most aggressive growth projections presented by the school district.
Any potential overcrowding in individual buildings could easily be alleviated by reworking the newest boundaries that shifted students away from Chaska Elementary and the Kindergarten Center replacing them with community programs, offices, and non-K-5 programs that were never approved by the voters. Based on this, we should all be asking some tough questions before approving any further funding.
According to the district's own reports (on the financial tab of the district website, and posted in the annual budget) today the district capacity can accommodate 12,379 students, and our current enrollment is 9,742 students.
With the means to accommodate an additional 2,637 students, our district can easily handle the growth of 1,400 new students projected over the next five years by Davis Demographics. Building a new school should not be our first solution when our current capacity meets all future growth projections, and the capacity is already available in the communities where the growth is expected.
Eastern Carver County School District's own math is not adding up. Vote "no" on Nov. 5 for all three questions on the more than $211.7 million referendum and send our school district back to finish their homework.
Carver County property owners already pay their fair share. Carver County property taxes are currently ranked by tax-rate.org as the highest in Minnesota and No. 153 of the 3,143 counties in the United States (based on median property tax).
An average homeowner in Carver County with a home valued at $350,000 is currently paying over $2,229 a year to the Eastern Carver County School District.
If all three questions are approved these property taxes would increase by almost another $450 a year.
Voting "no" for all three questions means the district will continue to collect significant funding from previously approved referendums while preventing residents from facing additional property taxes burdens.
Allowing question three to expire with a "no" vote will even lower property taxes for the same average home valuer by over $250 a year.