ON THE BALLOT: 1 in 5 Minn. school districts seek funding boost - Fox 2 News Headlines

ON THE BALLOT: 1 in 5 Minn. school districts seek funding boost

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More than 20 percent of Minnesota's school districts will ask voters to approve a property tax increase to boost funding during Tuesday's election despite a $485-million funding increase at the state level.

According to a Minnesota Public Radio report, the number -- a total of 83 in all -- is typical for an off-year election.

Scott Croonquist, executive director of the Association of Metropolitan School Districts, said the districts are asking turning to referendums because the increased state funding only amounts to a 1.5 percent increase per student in each of the next two years, which is not enough to keep up with inflation.

"Even though the state did provide us with a budget increase this year and next year, one biennium can't make up for the last decade," Gary Amoroso, executive director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators, said.

Croonquist added that much of the state funding will go toward all-day kindergarten. For many districts that are still struggling to integrate technology into teaching, that leaves officials looking to levies.

In the 8th-grade English class in Osseo, kids are welcome to pull out their own phones and tablets, but not every student has one.

"Not a level playing field," said Tim Wilson.

The school has one rolling cart of netbooks, but to incorporate technology into the class curriculum, most teachers still have to take the class to the computers.

"Nobody would ever think about doing that at work -- having to go down to the computer lab at your office in order to use technology at work," Wilson continued. "It's ridiculous, but that's the situation many schools are in."

Osseo is one of many districts asking for a levy to put more devices in classrooms and up their Wi-Fi capabilities. There are 26 schools asking for money to put toward capital improvements, which can include maintenance projects, building construction or technological investments. There is also a list of 57 schools asking voters to pitch in money to make up for budget shortfalls since costs have increased faster than funding.

"The dollars that the districts have received from the state have run at about 50 percent the rate of inflation," Amoroso explained.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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