2019 Operating Levy resources and information

Dear community,

On July 22, our school board voted unanimously to move forward with a levy proposal that would provide additional funding for our schools. Two questions will appear on the ballot on Nov. 5. If approved, the first ballot measure would provide funding for a seven-period day at Faribault High School. The second ballot measure would provide funding for additional support for our students through staffing, programming and transportation. I believe these proposals will improve student achievement and graduation rates, and provide our students with additional Pathways to Excellence, whether it’s by allowing them to take more classes that earn them college credits, take an elective class that inspires them, or serve an internship that prepares them for a career.

Most important, these measures support our school district’s mission to empower, energize and engage all students. I believe they will strengthen not only our school district, but the entire Faribault community.

Below you can view a presentation that includes more information about the two levy proposals, as well as a list of frequently asked questions and a link to the results of our seven-period day Thought Exchange. I will also be meeting with groups throughout the community over the next couple months to talk about the levy and the additional opportunities it will provide for our students.

We are committed to providing you with factual and transparent levy information in a timely manner. In the coming months, we will continually update our web page with resources and information. If you have additional questions, you can contact me at tsesker@faribault.k12.mn.us.

Thank you for your continued support of Faribault Public Schools.

Superintendent Todd Sesker

Todd Sesker



Click here to view our seven-period day Thought Exchange.
Thought Exchange


Click here to view our Pathways to Excellence presentation, which includes information about school funding, the tax impact of the proposed levy, how to vote, and what opportunities the levy would provide for our students. 


Pathways to Excellence





Frequently asked questions

Why is the school district asking for the levy?

The general education state aid funding formula as determined by the legislature is the primary revenue source for Minnesota school districts. It provides 81 percent of our school district's budget. Over the last 15 years the amount allocated per pupil has not kept up with the rate of inflation. This has led to budget challenges for schools across the state.

The second largest portion of the district’s budget (11 percent) comes from local property taxes in the form of voter-approved bonds and levies. The community last approved a levy increase in 2013.

Our district made nearly $2 million in budget adjustments for the 2019-20 school year. We are asking for a levy in order to enhance high-quality programming and supports for our students.

Where does the levy money go?

Switching to a seven-period day requires hiring additional staff who specialize in teaching the kinds of electives we want to offer students in subject areas like manufacturing, robotics and engineering. These types of classes also require equipment that allows students to gain hands-on experience.

Additional staff are also needed to implement academy programs that will improve student performance.

Funds will also go toward providing three additional bus routes that will cut our busing radius from two miles to one mile. 

Why is the district focusing on the seven-period day?

We’ve heard from numerous students and parents throughout the years about how difficult it is to fit in desired electives, career-readiness opportunities, college preparatory courses, and classes that spark students’ interest within a six-period schedule, while also meeting all requirements necessary for graduation. Earlier this year we decided to host an online Thought Exchange so we could hear more from the community about the seven-period day and the feedback we received about moving to a seven-period day was overwhelmingly positive.

In addition, 400 members of the community were surveyed in February of 2019. Survey results showed the community was most favorable to a levy increase that matched the cost to implement a seven-period day.

We feel that implementing a seven-period day will improve student achievement and create more opportunities for our students.

What is “Pathways to Excellence”?

We know that every student learns differently, faces different challenges, and has different goals. The institution of a seven-period day is part of a broader plan, Pathways to Excellence, that creates more opportunities for all students to succeed by:

  • Giving students more access to classes that offer college credits.

  • Providing schedule flexibility that will increase participation in our academy programs.

  • Creating more opportunities for our students to explore their interests through elective classes.

  • Offering additional staffing and opportunities for academic and mental health support.

  • Providing students more opportunities to gain experience through internships at local businesses and other community-based learning.

  • Giving more students access to transportation.

  • Decreasing the number of students who have to take summer school.

We believe these changes will improve student experiences, improve graduation rates, and help students acquire the skills they need be successful, whether they’re entering the workforce or continuing their education.

 

Why are there two separate levy questions on the ballot?

Asking two questions allows us to be specific about what funds are needed to implement a seven-period day and what funds will be used to provide additional student support. The first question includes all funding necessary to institute a seven-period day at Faribault High School. The second question includes funding that would provide additional Pathways to Excellence for students through programming, staffing and transportation.

 

What is the tax impact?

The tax impact of Question 1 is $65 per year, or less than $6 per month, on an average home. The tax impact of Question 2 is $34 per year, or less than $3 per month. Combined, the tax impact will be $99 per year, or just over $8 per month, on an average home.

 

Will the school day be longer with a seven-period day?

A seven-period day will not affect the length of the school day. Each class period will be a few minutes shorter.

 

Is a seven-period day supported by the staff?

In a survey last year, 90 percent of our high school staff said they would prefer a seven-period day to a six-period day.

 

How would additional transportation options improve student performance?

The biggest indicator of student success is attendance. About 150 students live over a mile from our high school and don’t receive bus service. Additional funds could provide transportation for these students and increase student attendance.

 

Has the 9th Grade Academy made an impact on student performance?

Yes. In its first year, the number of failing grades for students in our Ninth Grade Academy was cut in half. In the first quarter of Year 2, the number of failing grades in English, science and social studies fell from 52 to 3. Students in the academy achieved an increase in grade-point average and attendance while enrolled in the academy.

 

How will this improve FHS’s graduation rate?

There are several ways our Pathways to Excellence plan would impact graduation rates. The plan will:

  • Fund additional programs like the Ninth Grade Academy, which significantly improved the academic performance of our ninth-grade students the last two years.

  • Give students more flexible scheduling, which means if they fail a course it will be easier for students to take that course again without falling behind or having to take classes elsewhere or during the summer; and

  • Engage students by offering them more elective classes and community-based learning opportunities.


What is the sustainability of a seven-period day if it passes? If there are budget cuts in the future, will the seven-period day be one of them?

As long as the operating levy moves forward, the seven-period day will not be affected.

 

Is this money that is potentially being taken away from fixing other things in the schools?

The Pathways to Excellence plan is a levy proposal that can only fund projects related to programming and learning. Facility projects are funded through bonds and cannot be used for programming.

 

What are the drawbacks of a seven-period day?

There are no right or wrong types of school schedules. The important thing is finding one that meets the needs of our students. We feel that a seven-period day will provide opportunities for students that are not available under the constraints of a six-period schedule.

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