Rockford Area Schools Home Page
Referendum 2016
Public Meetings
October 4, 2016
7 pm
Rockford High School Auditorium

October 10, 2016
7 pm
Corcoran City Hall
Basic  Education Funding Needed
The Rockford Area Schools Board of Education and administration is committed to continually and carefully reviewing all K-12 programs, while taking action to keep our district fiscally sound. In the past few years, the following options have been implemented:
  • Concerted effort to increase student enrollment
  • Applying for grant dollars to support innovative programming
  • Working with state legislators, including testimony at the Capitol to promote legislation that supports out district with a minimal financial impact on taxpayers.
  Operating Levy Referendum

Communications to our Community
School Board Message to the Community

Childhood Has No Rewind

Facts to Consider about our November 2016 Referendum

Information on Referendum Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Bond Election Facts
Bond Refunds Save Taxpayers $

Comparison of recent Bond Elections in Neighboring Districts

Local Option Revenue Data
Local Taxpayer Cost for District's Local Levy

MDE 2016-17 Data Comparison Graph 1

MDE 2016-17 Data Comparison Graph 2

Revenue Rankings

Survey Data from AMSD

Links to Additional Resources
Legal Notices

Tax Rates Operating Levy

Tax Rates Technology Levy

Community Home Values

City of Rockford
City of Corcoran
City of Greenfield

Homeowner's Homestead Credit Refund

About the Homestead Credit Refund

Special Property Tax Refund

Senior Citizen Property Tax Deferral

What is an operating levy?
An operating levy is a levy for learning. It helps fund day-to-day operations in our schools, which include teachers and staff, programming like STEM classes and field experiences, our agri-science and technology education programs, gifted and talented programs, piano and band in grades three through five, and a number of student activities support staff, instructional materials (classroom supplies, kits and materials for lab-based classes, etc.), utility bills, and staff development. The district is seeking a $1,142 per pupil levy starting in 2017 for nine years. This compares with the state average total referendum authority of $1,215 per pupil. For the 2017-18 school year, the first year the levy would take effect, the referendum portion will cover 11% of the total budget. The remaining portion is covered by state and federal funding that change annually.
Sample Ballot Levy Question 1
 Language reviewed and verified by KF&D - Knutson, Flynn & Deans, P. A.

Why is the referendum needed?
  1. Local operating levies are a critical component of school funding in Minnesota. In fact, over 90% of Minnesota school districts have a local operating levy.
  2. Currently, the Rockford Area Schools does not have a voter-approved operating levy in place. Our last voter-approved levy expired in June 2015. Prior to 2015, our district has had a voter-approved operating levy in place since 1998.
  3. State funding has not kept pace with inflation.  The state has been an unpredictable partner for funding K-12 education, even with the reported state budget surplus. Local funding is critically needed to make up for the lack of state funding.
  4. Recent student enrollment growth has given the district additional revenues to maintain our quality programs. However, the local population of school-age students, and therefore enrollment, has reached a plateau and the revenue growth has stopped.
  5. Grants and donations are unpredictable revenue. Although the district has applied for and received over $1 million in various grants and donations over the past few years, the revenue is short-termed and designated for specific projects.  A stable and long-range operating budget cannot be developed using funds from grants and donations.
  6. The district has already made reductions to the budget. The district reduced the operating budget for the 2016-17 school year by a total of $500,000.  The budget cuts included staff and administrative reductions; decreased spending on transportation, supplies and field trips; increased activity fees and meal prices; and diverted the deferred maintenance reserve to support day-to-day operations.

When considering whether to bring a referendum forward, the Rockford Board of Education made certain budget assumptions, based on historical data. These include maintaining stable student enrollment and receiving an annual increase in revenue of 2% by the State of Minnesota. Unfortunately, district expenses increase at roughly 5% per year, even with no increases in programming. This economic reality leaves Rockford Area Schools with an annual 3% deficit. Revenue will increase only if approved by the state legislature. Expenses are projected to continue to out-pace funding. That is why the Board is asking voters to increase the local tax rate.

How much will it cost?
For a home valued at $200,000 in the district, there will be a $39 per month tax increase ($469 annually) for 2017 taxes.
Tax impact charts are available at the district office or review the Tax Rates tables under the Links to Additional Resources section on the left side of this page to find tax impact for your specific property.

Please Note:
There are no building or construction funds in this referendum. Voters will not see athletic facilities improvements, bonds and added debt on the November ballot. The levy question is a pay-as-you-go funding strategy, with no borrowing or long-term financing.

What a "YES" vote means:
· Increases the district’s annual operating revenue by an estimated $2,079,305 ($1,142 per pupil in 2017) in the first year of the nine year term.
· Provides additional funds earmarked for direct educational purposes, helping the district to maintain its focus on educational excellence (district-wide, reading scores have increased 10% in the last four years, math scores increased 7% and science scores increased 9%) and enables students now in school to reach higher levels of achievement.

What a "NO" vote means:
· Rejects a property tax increase.
· Provides direction to the School Board and administration to continue making reductions from the operating budget, each year, to ensure budget is fiscally sound. This will impact class sizes and available quality programs.
  Technology Levy Referendum

RAS Technology Expenses and Proposed Revenue

About the Question

New Initiatives for a 3-year life cycle

Technology Infrastructure

Election and Voting Links

Register to Vote

Election Day Voting

What's On My Ballot

Other Ways to Vote (Absentee)

Polling Place Finder

Campaign Practices

Hennepin County Elections
P: 612-348-5151
F: 612-348-2151

Wright County Elections
P: 763-682-7579
F: 763-628-7873

Election Information for ISD 883 Precincts
City of Corcoran

City of Greenfield

City of Rockford

City of Hanover Precinct 3

City of Independence

City of Maple Grove Precinct-20

City of Medina Precinct 1B

Franklin Township

Rockford Township

What is a technology levy?
A technology (capital project) levy is a dedicated fund where 100% of the funding supports technology. It also includes hardware, software, network infrastructure, broadband fiber, communication technologies, Wi-Fi, and software licenses used by students and staff, technical support, and training in the district.
Sample Ballot Levy Question 2
Language reviewed and verified by KF&D - Knutson, Flynn & Deans, P. A.
Why is the referendum needed?
There is an ongoing need to provide additional tools to prepare our students to be 21st century learners. Effective use of technology has the potential to help students approach problems more creatively, think more critically, collaborate more skillfully and communicate with higher levels of precision. Technology has become an essential component in student achievement.
From the first interactive whiteboards that were installed in 2007 to the collaborative cloud platform and multitude of devices we have available for student use, a critical factor in educating children today includes leveraging the creativity, communication, and collaboration made possible by technology.  Textbooks, classroom assessments and many aspects of how we deliver knowledge and skills to students are moving online, and the world of work following school demands graduates with technological competence.
The District currently does not have a technology levy in place like many other school districts. This means that funding to maintain our current network, wireless, Infinite Campus student information system, ActivBoards, technology infrastructure, and technical support comes from the general fund and reduces funds available  for instructional and operational expenses.

How much will it cost?
For a home valued at $200,000 in the district, there will be a $6 per month tax increase ($72 annually) for 2017 taxes.
The technology referendum will generate approximately $395,100 annually to help pay technology expenditures for nine years. This funding will be used to:
· Maintain, update or replace current technology systems, software, hardware and infrastructure (servers, broadband,    Wi-Fi, phones, websites, devices, etc.).
· Provide technical support for staff and student use of technology as well as system infrastructures.
· Maintain and improve classroom technology for students so that skilled teachers can:
° Personalize learning and give teachers the ability to adjust the content, pace and approach to learning based on individual student needs.
° Incorporate relevant and current online educational resources into their lessons.
° Facilitate state-required standardized testing (all computer-based) and assessment, which can provide immediate feedback to teachers and students regarding progress and mastery of material.
° Prepare students for college and careers after graduation.
This information is prepared and paid for by Rockford Area Schools - ISD 883, 6051 Ash Street, Rockford MN 55373. The information is not prepared on behalf of any candidate or ballot question.
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