Owatonna School Officials React to Mixed Levy Results
School officials are thankful after Owatonna School District voters passed a levy renewal on Tuesday. But at the same time, officials are now looking at making budget cuts after the question of additional resources was defeated at the same time.
In a news release from the district on Wednesday, Owatonna superintendent Jeff Elstad stated, "We are grateful to our community for renewing the levy. On top of last year's approval for a new high school it shows an important level of support for our schools. New we need to determine why the community did not feel it could approve a levy increase, as this loss will have a big impact on our future financial planning."
The release reports that Question 1 passed 8,209-7,471 (52% - 48%). This "approves renewing the district's existing operating levy of $482.90 per student which was about to expire."
Question 2 was defeated 9,529-6,103 (61% - 39%). This additional funding "would have generated an additional $300 per student in 2022 and 2025.
School board president Mark Sebring said, "In these challenging times of COVID-19, we know it was important to balance our needs with our community's ability to support our schools. Our hope was that by combing budget cuts with a phased-in operating levy increase, our community woudl recognize this as a shared approach to solving our financial challenges."
The district previously approved cuts of $500,000 to the 2019-2020 budget and $2 million for the 2020-2021 school year to balance its budget according to the news release, which states, "Without the levy increase, the district will now need to identify $2 million in budget cuts for 2021-2022." Cuts could include teacher and staff layoffs in addition to other areas.