Letter to editor stock art - row of mailboxes

Our district is asking us to vote on a tech levy on Nov. 2 for $3.5 million a year for the next 10 years. Every year for the last 10 years the district has had a levy of varying amounts, the largest one in November 2017 for $109.3 million. During the school board meeting on Dec. 14, 2020, the board reported they would run out of money by February 2021. So they approved a levy of $35,027,171, which the taxpayers had no opportunity to vote on.

I could give many examples of what I consider to be wasteful spending by the board but will highlight just four here. In some cases I was provided data on bills and payments. In others, I was simply given a dollar amount paid.

The district advised me that we have spent $560,429.24 on equity and inclusion training through Jan. 26, 2021. $268,900 went to Dr. Hollie, while the $291,529.24 was for substitute teachers, hourly staff compensation, travel, printing, etc., related to equity training. While listening to school board meetings, I found Dr. Hollie met with the board at least twice after that date so there may be other charges.

The district paid at least $12,063,293 to Nexus for consulting fees on the construction projects.

The district reported we've paid over $5 million on the MNCAPS program since its inception in 2017. Last year only 240 students participated in the program. I have no problem with the concept of the program but $5 million is outrageous for only 240 students, especially when there are similar programs like Pathways, Vantage and Blue Valley that would not cost the district anywhere near that kind of money.

District documents show we've spent $6,433,522 on tech equipment through July 2019. In April 2019 they purchased 800 Mac Book Air computers for the teachers. I confirmed we had under 600 teachers. In October 2020 they purchased 31 document cameras at a cost of $3,808.  In October 2019 the district received coronavirus funds and spent $537,419 of it on tech equipment. Our district has had under 8,900 students.  We have purchased 15,398 chromebooks and iPads plus the Mac Book Air computers. What are they doing with all this equipment? Do students hand in all chromebooks and iPads the final day of school or are some keeping them?

Safety and security were part of the November 2017 referendum, so why is it now in the tech levy?

The school district has shown repeatedly they can't budget properly, they make wasteful, outrageous financial decisions with our tax dollars and apparently believe we have an endless amount of money to pour into the district.

Kathy LaFond

Prior Lake