District 196 Faces Huge Levy That Could Change Everything

Afton Kalina, Contributor

On November 5, 2019, District 196 will face a levy referendum that could dramatically change the district’s budgets. Hopes are high that it will be passed.

The people in district 196  have a chance to approve this operating levy that would allow the district to avoid up to $18 million-dollar budget cuts.

If the levy is not passed, budget cuts would include: staff reductions, increased class sizes, less support for students, certain program elimination, and potential reduction of transportation. 

Administrators in this district hope voters will pass this year’s levy to avoid above budget cuts as well as restore 2009 to 2012 staffing reductions, and after school activity buses for students. 

Rosemount High School principal, Peter Roback insists, “It’s incredibly important to me that my students and staff have everything they may need, and that they are taken care of. I really want this for us, so my hopes are really high on this.”

Last fall, the district identified a $25 million budget shortfall over the next three years, and earlier this year the board approved the first $7 million in budget adjustments for the coming school year. The cuts included elimination of more than 30 teaching positions, reduced funding for instructional supplies and increased fees for students to participate in co-curricular activities.

Superintendent of District 196, Mary Kreger states, “Even though we are in good economic times, the Legislature approved only inflationary increases for the next two years,” Kreger said. “While we are grateful for the increases we did receive, it’s apparent that we cannot rely on the state to make up for previous underfunding. We will need to ask our voters to increase local property taxes, if they want to avoid additional budget cuts of up to $18 million and restore some previous cuts that have negatively impacted our district.”

According to the district 64% of respondents said they would support a levy referendum and three-fourths of residents surveyed said they would be more likely to vote for a levy if it included funding to provide lower class sizes, increased mental health support for students and restoration of after-school activity bus transportation at all middle schools and high schools.

Class sizes have been an issue across the district, but especially at Rosemount High school. According to Senior, Sean Loesch, “I have a full course load this year, and all of my classes feel like they are bursting at the seams! I wish class sizes were smaller and not so cram packed.”