SARTELL -- Voters in the Sartell-St. Stephen school district will once again be asked to approve an operating levy this November.

This year's levy question calls to support an increase of $1.77 million per year for the next 10 years.

Superintendent Jeff Schwiebert says during all their discussions, residents continue to ask the same question.

Why are you coming back and asking us for more money? In a bond that money can only be uses to build buildings. So people tell us we should have cut a little out of the building and use it toward the levy but that's not how the system works. We can only bond for the building construction and operations have to come from the additional levy.

The funding increase would support academic and activity programs, maintain current class sizes and support school building operations.

Schwiebert says schools are funded by a mix of state, federal and local sources and despite belief, Sartell is a property-poor district due to limited commercially-taxed properties.

If you go down to Becker with the natural gas plants, they are able to put that tax on commercial property owners. That's different from Sartell where it's almost all going on residential property. That's why we are asking voters to support us as our district ranks 317 out of 330 school districts in Minnesota on the overall funding we get per student.

Last year, voters rejected a similar levy question by a 60 percent to 40 percent margin.

Should the levy get rejected again, Schwiebert says it could result in increase class sizes, changes in student transportation practices and more cuts, like $1.3-million in cuts approved back in April to this year's budget.

The elections are on November 5th.

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