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A portable classroom at Anoka-Hennepin schools’ Sand Creek Elementary houses K-3 science classes and has only one door, which is a safety concern. At one point, the district had 110 portable classrooms.

Anoka-Hennepin schools seek community support

From the Minneapolis Labor Review, October 27, 2017

By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor

ANOKA — Parents, teachers building trades members, and other community members are working to pass two school funding requests that will be on the November 7 ballot for voters in the Anoka-Hennepin school district.

The school district has named the levy campaign, “Fit for the Future,” and says the additional funding from the levy requests will ensure “safety, security and space” for the growing district, now educating 38,000 students.

The Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO has endorsed the Anoka-Hennepin school levy campaign as well as school levy campaigns in 11 other districts in the west metro area.

In Anoka-Hennepin, the state’s largest school district, the need for the two levies to pass is particularly acute.

“All our schools are at capacity except for two. They’re experiencing extremely crowded classrooms,” reported LeMoyne Corgard, president of Anoka-Hennepin Education Minnesota, the district’s teachers union.

“The growth that’s happening as the economy improves means we don’t have enough space for the students we already have and the students we know are coming,” Corgard said.

Corgard said this year’s “Fit for the Future” school levy campaign was almost two years in planning. A 32-member committee organized, drawn from administrators, teachers, union leaders and others. “We examined the needs of the district for the next 10-20 years,” he reported, and consulted the Minnesota state demographer about growth projections.

Two questions will be on the Anoka-Hennepin School District ballot.
The first question — an operating levy — proposes to increase annual per pupil spending by $226.20 and, if passed, would be in effect for 10 years.
The second question — the bonding levy — would authorize the district to sell $249 million in bonds to finance school construction and improvements. But this step would take place only if the first question also passes.

For the average home in the Anoka-Hennepin school district, which is valued at $200,000, the net tax increase from the two questions on the ballot would be just $11.02 per month.

(That’s less than the price of four cups of coffee with a shot of hazelnut at a local Caribou Coffee).

The bonding levy, if passed, will enable the district to build major additions to four of the district’s five high schools and also will support the construction of two new elementary schools.

With the new space added by the bonding levy, the district will be able to remove 62 portable classrooms which are inefficient, aging and which pose safety and security risks.

The added space, plus the increased funding from the operating levy, will enable the district to hire more teachers and reduce class sizes.

Smaller class sizes are so important for student learning, Corgaard says.
With current class sizes, “for students, they can’t access the help they might need to excel,” he says.
And current class sizes mean, “for teachers, it’s obviously more workload. more workload problems. You can’t reach 40 students like you can reach 30 students,” he notes.

“We know that’s what helps students excel, when they develop a meaningful relationship with a teacher,” Corgard said.

For more information on the Anoka-Hennepin levy, visit www.ahschools.us/levybond2017.

11 other school district levies

Other school districts in the west metro region with “yes” votes on levies endorsed by the MRLF include:

• Bloomington (ISD #271), Operating Levy;

• Brooklyn Center (ISD #286), Operating Levy and Bonding Levy;

• Columbia Heights (ISD #13), Bonding Levy;

• Hopkins (ISD #270), Operating Levy and Bonding Levy;

• Maple Lake (ISD #881), Operating Levy and Bonding Levy;

• Prior Lake-Savage (ISD #719), Bonding Levy and Operating Levy;

• Richfield (ISD 280), Operating Levy and Bonding Levy;

• Rockford ISD (#883), Operating Levy and Technology Levy;

• St. Francis (ISD #15), Bonding Levy;

• St. Louis Park (ISD #283), Operating Levy and Bonding Levy;

• Wayzata (ISD #284), Operating Levy, Bonding Levy and Technology Levy.

For more information, visit the school district websites.

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