Referendum 2021: Success, support and stability for all students.

  • Anoka-Hennepin voters will consider three ballot questions which are programmed to provide resources for all district students following unanimous School Board approval of a resolution at their June 28 meeting.

    The resolution was presented after the board and district leadership engaged in discussions and planning over the past year to align work with its ongoing strategic priorities, and research obtained from two community surveys to inform the needs of students in the district. 

    “After analyzing the multiple sets of community input, we are recommending that rather than going through the cutting process next summer or asking the community questions year after year, [that we] bring these questions to the community this fall and let them decide if these are still priorities in our school system,” said Superintendent David Law.

    Renewing levies for learning

    Anoka-Hennepin will list two questions on the ballot that renew past school district levies in the special election, Nov. 2:

    • The first question will ask the community to renew an operating levy which provides stability by maintaining current school district programs, services and class size.

      The operating levy was initially approved by the community in 2007, and renewed again in 2011 for taxes levied from 2012-2021.

      If the operating levy fails, the district will need to begin plans this winter to cut $34.5 million, which is 9.3 percent of the district’s operating budget.Budget cuts would likely result in higher class-sizes and student to staff ratios at all grade levels, reduced opportunities for students, and schedule changes at the secondary grade levels that would eliminate curricular choices.

    • The second question will ask the community to renew a 2011 capital projects levy which provides technology support, tools and resources in Anoka-Hennepin classrooms for all students.

      The capital levy was initially approved by the community in 2011 for taxes levied in 2011-2020.

      If the capital levy fails, the district would need to begin plans this fall to cut $4.5 million in other areas to continue providing these resources - or no longer provide them.

    If both questions are approved, community members will see no tax increase.

    Providing new support for all students

    The third question on the ballot proposes an operating levy that would target key areas including improving and extending mental health and social-emotional support for students,  and academic interventions and support for underachieving students. Approval is contingent upon the passage of the renewal of the operating levy in question one.

    If the third question is approved, it would ensure that Anoka-Hennepin is able to sustain mental health and academic support for students provided through one-time federal funds that the school district is scheduled to receive to address the negative impact of the pandemic. Currently, the one-time federal funding would only sustain support through the 2022-23 school year.

    “Our community has said [they want to] support underachieving students and students below grade level, and address the social-emotional and mental health consistently throughout the pandemic and for the past several years,” Law said. “There is a need for stability in funding; we would see a loss of the federal funds after two years and there is a need and interest in continuing that programming to support our students.”

    The tax impact of question three is approximately $10/month for a homeowner with a $250,000 home. (A total of $11 million.) A calculator will be available in the coming weeks for community members to learn their property’s specific tax figure. Because federal funds will fund programming for two years, the increase in local taxes would not take place until 2023 to begin funding schools in the 2023-24 school year. Find your specific property tax impact using the tax impact calculator.