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Farmington School Board adopts final budget, 2019 tax levy

Farmington School Board adopted the 2019 property tax levy during its Dec. 10 meeting.

District Finance Director Jane Houska offered a detailed summary of the 2019 school levy, approved to be $26,968,507. The levy funds the school for 2019-20.

"Just like everything else in school finance, it is highly regulated by the state of Minnesota, and we really don't do anything without a formula and some guidance from the state," Houska said.

The state determines each school district's revenue, tax policy and maximum property levy authority.

Since the 2003 school year, Houska said funding for basic general education revenue has fallen behind the rate of inflation.

"To the fact as we are looking at today's dollars, we are roughly $618 short," Houska said. "Meaning if per pupil they would have kept up with inflation all of those years, then we would have an additional $618 per pupil."

Today, that would translate to roughly $4.9 million more that the Farmington School District would be receiving — or equal to paying for 75 additional teaching staff.

Another area within school funding that is driving decisions within the budget is special education.

"It really has become a hot topic and the state has put together several tax forms to take a look at special education funding," Houska said.

Each year costs for special education go up. The last thing from a public education basis that really has changed since 1992-93, is that today roughly 65 percent of school districts need to hold referendums to keep schools running, Houska said.

"Today all school districts need to hold referendums to the tune of $1,371 per pupil," she said. "It just goes to show that in order to keep our buildings going, they needed to go out to taxpayers to seek funding."

Addressing a change in the levy, Houska said a change in the property tax levy does not mean a change in the school district's budget.

"The main reason is that the formula has an aid and a levy component — the aid component is funded by the state and that means the levy is funded by community members," she said.