• The following is a list of questions (with answers) related to the upcoming election on November 6th, 2018. If you would like to ask your own question, do so here.

Questions & Answers

  • Regarding question #2, what specific hardware and software needs justify $400k/year, for 10 years?

    Posted by:

    When the school board decided on the levy amount for the Capital Levy Project to fund technology, they looked at current technology expenses and estimates for planned new initiatives. A major portion of the planned initiatives involved increasing the number of devices for students, whether in a traditional “one to one” program or by providing more classroom device carts (grade level details listed below). Funding estimates also involved using the industry standard of a 3 year life cycle.  As the estimates were developed, costs were compiled from ongoing purchases and some assistance from long term vendors. A competitive bid process will not take place until major projects and purchases actually begin.

    All technology has a life cycle so a portion of the district’s technology expenses includes repairs, upgrades and replacements. And as software changes, that too needs attention, whether through updates or replacement. And with all expenses, inflation takes its toll.

    As you can see from the dollar amount of the current technology expenses listed below ($446K), the additional resources from this capital levy project ($400K annually) will not supplant that. And if it did, there would not be funds available for any new initiatives. The exact technology budget is not known at this time and the school board will balance related funds thoughtfully and purposefully.

    From the Rockford Area Schools 2018 Referendum Facts:

    These funds will help pay for technology expenses that include maintaining, updating or replacing current technology systems, software, hardware and infrastructure; providing technical support for staff and student use of technology as well as system infrastructures; and maintaining and improving classroom technology for students.

    From the October 8, 2018 Public Meeting Presentation:

    • Rockford Area Schools 2017-2018 Technology Expenses : $ 445,624 Comes out of the General Fund annually to support technology initiatives in the school district
      Staff Expenses • Hardware • Software • Repairs • Supplies
    • Raised to institute new technology initiatives PLUS reduce a portion of the general fund expenses currently taken out of the general fund at 3.576% to raise $400,000 annually
    • New Initiatives in Technology A three year life cycle …
      Rockford High School: Take home Chromebooks for all students in grades 9 – 12
      • Rockford Middle School - Center for Environmental Studies: Chromebook Carts for all classrooms grades 5 – 8
      • Rockford Elementary Arts Magnet School: Chromebook Carts – 1 for every 2 classrooms in grade 3 & 4 Tablet Carts - 1 for every 2 classrooms in grade K – 2
      • Staff laptops and computers
    • Infrastructure and other upgrades …
      Remaining computer labs
      • Classroom technologies (interactive boards, document cameras, projectors)
      • Network/Wireless Infrastructure
      • Telecommunications, printers, other peripherals

     

    Comments (-1)
  • Has enrollment gone up since the bond passed in 2012? And if so, what was enrollment then?

    Posted by:

    Yes, overall student enrollment has increased in the last several years. At the end of the 2010-2011 school year, our average daily membership (ADM) was 1513.04 students, the lowest in last 20 years. At end of the 2017-18 school year, our ADM was 1688.93 students.  Currently, the district ADM is at 1641.39 students. Student enrollment numbers fluctuate throughout the school year.

    Our district has worked hard to build student enrollment through attractive, unique and sustainable programs that prepare our students to be college and career-ready in the 21st century. When the 2018-19 district budget was developed last spring, it was conservatively based on an enrollment of 1660 students. 

    Looking at other enrollment statistics, our student enrollment was at its highest 1751.72 ADMs at the end of the 2000-01 school year, during the bond projects that included a new elementary school, a new community center, and building additions.  After failing four operating levy referendums from November 2003 to November 2008, district student enrollment also dropped 205.96 ADMs during those years.

     

    Comments (-1)
  • What % of my taxes I pay to my resident district follow my open-enrolled children to RAS?

    Posted by:

    To best answer this question, one should understand the differences between levy and aid.  Levy is locally collected revenue based from property taxes. It can be a voter-approved levy, such an operating levy similar to our question 1 or a capital project levy like our question 2. Other levies on your property tax statement may include board-approved funds, and other revenues that must be spent a specific way, contingent on the state formula. Thus, 100% of your property taxes go to the school district that you reside.  It doesn't matter where your children attend school.  Aid is revenue that comes to the school district from either state or federal sources. The state aid money, which is collected mainly from income and other statewide taxes, is the only money that follows the student to the public school in which they attend. The majority of our school district revenue comes from state aid.  Rockford Area Schools General Education Revenue per pupil unit currently is $8,058. This number changes and may fluctuate depending upon student enrollment, demographics, individual educational needs, and state formulas based on PPU (per pupil units).

     

    Comments (-1)
  • What is the impact on farm land, as taxes continue to spiral up?

    Posted by:

    This past spring, the Minnesota State Legislature passed a bill that included a school building bond agriculture credit. Those eligible to receive the credit are all class 2a, 2b, and 2c property under section 273.13, subdivision 23, other than property consisting of the house, garage, and immediately surrounding one acre of land of an agricultural homestead. For each qualifying property, the school building bond agricultural credit is equal to 50 percent of the property's eligible net tax capacity multiplied by the school debt tax rate.  The county auditor shall determine the tax reductions allowed. This will be effective with taxes payable in 2018. To see how the district's property tax request will impact your property, check out the property tax information site.

     

    Comments (-1)
  • Please tell me the amount for each question over how many years, and the same info for last attempt

    Posted by:

    The Rockford Area School Board took many factors into consideration when determining whether to place a question on a ballot. In 2017, the Board considered an amount of $1142 for ten years as seen on the preliminary information for the referendum revenue and tax rates for that election. This year, the Board considered an amount of $750 for seven years as seen on the preliminary information for the referendum revenue and tax rates for this election.  The Notice of Election for 2017 and 2018 has additional information on each question.

     

    Comments (-1)
  • If the referendum passes, will schools be having the media centers open all day?

    Posted by:

    Funds gained from approval of the operating levy question will help maintain our current programs and staffing, dependent upon student enrollment and state funding. Ultimately, the Rockford Area School Board will make the final decision regarding the next school year's annual district budget prior to July 2019.

     

    Comments (-1)
  • Why does the Rockford Area Schools get “significantly less” funding per pupil than the state median?

    Posted by:

    There are many, often complex, reasons why our district’s local revenues fall below the state median. Two major reasons impact the answer. First, the state education funding formula, set by the State Legislature and Governor, negatively impacts our district because of unequal funding.  Second, the majority of voters in our district communities of Rockford, Greenfield and Corcoran have not yet been willing to approve local tax funds necessary to cover the costs of educating our K-12 Rockford Area Schools students.

    Sixty-six percent of the school districts in Minnesota have successfully passed their local voter-approved general operating levy through a referendum. Of the 20 public school districts in Hennepin County, the Rockford Area Schools is one of only three districts without a local voter-approved levy. 

    The voters in the Rockford Area School District #883 last approved a general operating levy in 2009 and that taxing authority expired in 2015.  Since then, the Board of Education approved placing referendum questions on the ballot during the last two November elections in 2016 and 2017. Both previous requests were unsuccessful.

    The Rockford Area Schools are currently ranked 294th lowest in revenue out of 330 Minnesota public school districts.  The two charts below have more details:

     

    Comments (-1)
  • Why $750 per pupil? Why is that the number the district decided is the right number? Why not less

    Posted by:

    For several months the Rockford School Board discussed, considered, gathered input and debated what amount to set the Question #1 levy amount. The board members, staff and administration are working on every level to create a strong, sustainable, and successful school district for all of its community members. Turning to taxpayers for additional support is always a difficult decision. With no additional local funding, Rockford Area Schools will fall beneath the board recommended fund balance policy (8-10%) as early as the 2021-22 school year and could fall into statutory operating debt (S.O.D. or bankruptcy) as soon as the 2022-23 school year. The Rockford School Board looked at a variety of levy referendum options, how state aid works for school districts, and equity revenue before making their unanimous decision at the August regular board meeting. The $750 amount barely covers the per pupil cross-subsidy (a federal & state unfunded mandate for special education services which resulted in a net loss of -$1,184,949 in 2015-2016). The November 6th, 2018 operating levy is not intended to add programs or positions back. It will allow us to keep what the district currently has in place by containing further budget cuts, maintaining class sizes and retaining opportunities for the district’s students. The 2018-19 Revenue Rankings set the average total revenue ranking for all Minnesota School Districts at $11,328 per pupil unit (ppu). The Rockford Area Schools currently receives $9,576 ppu in total revenue (federal, state and local).  If the Levy Question #1 is successful in November, the school district will be able to maintain what is currently in place but we will still be over a thousand dollars behind the state average in total revenue.

     

    Comments (-1)
  • What happened to all the money from selling the land?

    Posted by:

    In 2018, the district sold land in Corcoran for $1.43 million to maintain a stable budget. This valuable asset, which the district owned for over 40 years, was slated for a school building once the population in Corcoran grew large enough to warrant a new school.

    The proceeds from this sale are reserved for capital expenditures as required by law. The revenue has been recorded in the school district fund balance so to meet the 8-10% target as per board policy.

    Last May, the Rockford Area School Board set the annual district budget and approved the 2018-19 capital outlay plan. In that plan, resources were slated to remodel space in the high school to create an additional science lab/classroom (therefore reducing science class sizes that had risen to over forty students per class). Additionally, staffing expenses in technology were authorized to be transferred from the general fund to the capital outlay fund.

    Should Question #1 and/or Question #2 of our referendum vote be successful the remaining revenues from the land sale will then be available to be spent on other needed capital expenditures such as roofing and window repairs and other deferred maintenance items.

     

    Comments (-1)
  • What is a circuit breaker, can anyone use it?

    Posted by:

    Homeowner's Homestead Credit Refund

    Minnesota has two property tax refund programs for homeowners: the regular Homestead Credit Refund and the special Homestead Credit Refund. You may qualify for either or both of these refunds depending on your income and property tax increase.

    To determine eligibility check out the MN Department of Revenue webpage @ Property Tax Refund

     

    Comments (-1)
  • If I vote YES on the levy ballot questions, will my taxes go up?

    Posted by:

    Yes, your property taxes will increase. For more information and a tax impact calculator, please CLICK HERE.

    Comments (-1)