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Zumbrota-Mazeppa board member outlines proposed levy override

ZUMBROTA — "Vote YES for ZM Schools" signs are popping up on lawns in Zumbrota and Mazeppa as the district prepares for a Nov. 5 referendum on an operating levy override.

School Board member Pete Hinrichs was at the Zumbrota City Council meeting Oct. 17 to seek the city's support for the levy. Hinrichs said the district is asking voters for $350 per student for 10 years.

State funding for schools has not kept pace with inflation, Hinrichs said, and the district had been forced to increase class sizes and cut $311,000 of staff and programs since 2011, Hinrichs said.

Under the state's funding formula, Z-M and a number of other school districts in southeastern Minnesota receive considerably less state aid per pupil than other districts in the state. Zumbrota-Mazeppa ranks 311 out of 338 districts in terms of state funding.

To avoid further program reductions, Z-M has been spending its reserve funds. The reserve balance has fallen to $173,000, which is less than one week's worth of operating expenses.


Voters denied last year's levy override request of $350 per pupil, but school board members remain hopeful that the measure will pass this year.

If the levy override passes, those owning a home valued at $150,000 will see a $7 monthly increase in property taxes. For those owning a $200,000 home, the tax increase will be less that $9 per month. Agricultural land owners are only taxed on their house, garage and one acre of land.

New state legislation only allows for referendums to be held every two years, so if this effort fails, it will be November 2015 before the school district can try again.

On Nov. 5, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Zumbrota Primary School (K-2 building) and at the Mazeppa Elementary School.

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