SPRING VALLEY — Levies are for learning and bonds are for building, is the message that Kingsland School District Superintendent Jim Hecimovich wants in the heads of voters in the district's Special Election on Nov. 5.

Spring Valley and Wykoff residents will decide then to either approve or deny an increased operating levy for its school district. The Kingsland School District is asking voters to increase its per pupil unit by $714, from the existing $852 per pupil rate to $1,566. The district's current levy was approved 10 years ago by voters and will expire in 2020. 

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The school board's campaign leading up to next week's election has stressed the difference between an operating levy and a building bond, said Hecimovich. The district is only looking to maintain operational stability with increased funding. 

"This is not a brick-and-mortar request," he said. "This is to keep solid curriculum going, and to improve curriculum offerings in areas where the jobs are." 

If an increased general revenue is approved on Nov. 5, the Kingsland superintendent said the district will only spend that money on basic operational costs. Those costs include textbooks and supplies, general education enhancements and basic building maintenance. The levy will increase at the rate of inflation and be applicable for 10 years.

"You pick what you think you need," Hecimovich said. "And from Kingsland's standpoint, we felt this is what our voters will accept."

Hecimovich has been with the Kingsland district since 2001. In 2010, voters approved an increase similar to the one on Tuesday's ballot. The district promised good operational stewardship, and Hecimovich said its followed through on that. 

"We tied that referendum to some promises," said Hecimovich of the district's 2010 approved increased funding. "We said we would put college into the schools, to keep kids from enrolling in PSEO, leaving for Rochester or Austin."

He said the district also came through on its promise to improve its STEM Education program by implementing Project Lead the Way.

"All of those things we promised 10 years ago, we fullfilled," said Hecimovich. "Now we're looking to do the same thing."

The promises tied to the Nov. 5 election will be to strengthen the district's math and reading, and beef up its trade program.

"That's our industrial tech and our ag programs, along with welding and construction," said Hecimovich. "That's where 70 percent of the jobs are."

Tax impact

Residential properties are taxed based on their estimated market value. If passed, a home with a market value of $100,000 will see an increase of $13.73 a month. Owners of a $150,000 home would see a $20.59 increase. The district's tax impact calculator can be accessed at kingsland.k12.mn.us.

According to the information site City-Data, which the district cites in its estimated tax impacts, the median home value for Wykoff in 2016 was $86,158, and $107,836 for Spring Valley.

If the increased levy on Nov. 5 fails to win approval, Hecimovich said the district will have to spend down its current fund balance (which is estimated to be approximately $6.2 million). According to the district, that would place Kingsland schools in Statutory Operating Debt, and local control would be surrendered to the state.

Any resident with questions or concerns over the Nov. 5 referendum are welcome to contact Hecimovich at 507-696-8612 or at hecimovich.james@kingsland2137.org.

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