School levy up 9.5 percent

Entire increase to upgrade indoor air quality at high school


Mary Bailey
Community Editor

The school board voted at its Sept. 20 meeting to set the 2013 preliminary tax levy at $17,028,056, a 9.5 percent increase over 2012. The vote was unanimous.

The increase comes from a health and safety expenditure of $1,509,000 to fund the first half of a two-year project that will double the volume of fresh air brought in to the high school.

The actual increase over the 2012 levy is $1,473,196.

The board approved the major air quality upgrade at the July 19 meeting and submitted it to the Minnesota Department of Education for review. Approval by the department is expected this week.

Because it is a health and safety project, the indoor air quality upgrade is not subject to a reverse referendum.  In other words, there is no mechanism for local voters to petition for the question to be on the ballot.

The $3 million project will take place over two summers, before the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years, so the 2014 budget will also have the $1.5 million item.

Currently the high school uses the original air conditioning equipment installed when the school was built in 1972.

Truth in taxation notices mailed from the county in November will reflect this levy amount for the school district portion of a homeowner’s property tax bill. The final levy will be set in December, after the public hearing on Dec. 6.

After 2014, when the high school air quality project is complete, the school board can either decrease the budget or begin the process of improving air quality at the district’s other schools.

According to Business Services Director Larry Martini, four school buildings, plus portions of three more, are in need of indoor air quality upgrades: Forest Lake Elementary, Southwest Junior High, parts of the Central Learning Center, Scandia Elementary, Linwood Elementary, parts of Lino Lakes Elementary, and parts of Wyoming Elementary.

Upgrades at Forest View and Columbus Elementary schools were done in 2003 and 2005.

Air quality projects at the elementary and junior high schools would also have to go through the state approval process.