We’ve provided a few high-level facts that broadly explain the issue and the ways the St. Anthony - New Brighton School Board is working with local legislators. Please read the full article for more details.
Education finance is complex and inequities for local taxpayers exist
Your St. Anthony - New Brighton School Board has a Legislative Action Team that advocates for equitable and reliable state funding for education
Recently a legislative resolution was submitted to the state school board association advocating for equitable and comparable taxpayer effort
As we begin to prepare for the 2024 legislative session the St. Anthony - New Brighton (SANB) School Board Legislative Team continues to address the inequity in property tax base among communities and school districts. When school districts need to depend on the property tax system to fund schools, an inequity in taxation and services exists.
The more commercial properties (restaurants, car dealerships etc.) there are in a community, the more a district is able to collect taxable revenue. Thus, school districts with more commercial properties can purchase robust education services and staff. Districts that have fewer commercial properties have to rely on the property taxes of residential properties, which in SANB are overwhelmingly single-family homeowners, causing a greater financial impact.
In the past the state has “equalized” this inequity. However, over the years the state effort to create property tax fairness as it applies to education has eroded due to several factors. At the October 3, 2023, board meeting, the SANB School Board supported a resolution the Legislative Team submitted to the Minnesota School Boards Association to ensure statewide advocacy partnership to argue for equitable and comparable taxpayer effort.
Check out the background, local discussion and the resolution SANB submitted below.
Our district’s partnership with the Minnesota School Board Association
One of the ways our school board advocates for our district’s needs around funding and policies is to connect with statewide organizations to strengthen our voice. The SANB school board participates in the Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA). We work with this group to maximize the impact of our legislative advocacy by partnering with other school districts to articulate our needs to our state Legislature. MSBA Members can propose legislative resolutions to their Delegate Assembly for the upcoming legislative session. Resolutions are the first step to developing MSBA’s official positions on important educational issues. If the Delegate Assembly votes to adopt these positions, they guide the MSBA Government Relations team as they represent Minnesota School Boards at the Legislature, meaning our district has more people working on our issues on our behalf. MSBA gets a resolution on this topic every year. Two SANB School Board members are serving on the MSBA Delegate Assembly, representing our district and the MSBA Director District: Vice Chair Laura Oksnevad and Director Dr. Cassandra Palmer.
While presenting and receiving feedback at the SANB Referendum Public Forums, the SANB Legislative team which included Vice Chair Laura Oksnevad, Clerk Mageen Caines, Superintendent Dr. Renee Corneille, observed a great need to advocate for our district in relation to the inequitable taxation of local communities. This resolution is one step in addressing the legislative action needed to ensure equitable and comparable taxpayer effort. View the SANB School Board’s in-depth conversation about the need for equitable state funding at 1:35:54 at the October 3, 2023, board meeting.
Resolution submitted by SANB for consideration by MSBA
Be it resolved…the legislature should create a more efficient and equitable system of state funding so that uneven distribution of local levies do not fund the brunt of mandates. All education funding should be equalized to ensure comparable taxpayer effort.
Referendum equalization between districts and between state and local is uneven and inequitable. Our state funding mechanisms (A&I, Qcomp, LTFM, Community education, etc) put the payment for state-mandated programs burden onto the local taxpayers.
Although the state constitution requires that education be fully funded, districts still must convince voters to vote for local tax increases to pay for mandatory programs. In an inflation-burdened environment (see Figure 1), it is a humbling and hard ask to make. The tax burden is very uneven because different districts are housed in communities with a variety of development opportunities and various property-type tax profiles (see Figure 2).
The St. Anthony-New Brighton School District, like most Minnesota school districts, must fund state-mandated programs through local taxpayers. Because our tax base is 84% residential taxpayers, our taxbase is the 4th most burdened in the state and pays a disproportionate amount more per household each year over neighboring districts. Comparatively, the metropolitan area has a 74% residential taxbase. (see Figure 3) While we request a lower dollar value per pupil for our operating levy than our neighboring districts, the household tax impact is at least ten times higher.
As an example, in St. Anthony-New Brighton, our local taxpayers could pay (if our operating levy is passed in November) $717 per year for a $1,820 per pupil operating levy. Compare that to our neighbor next door, Roseville, whose operating levy is $1,922 and their household tax impact is $67.08 per year. Roseville has a mall, car dealerships, and other large businesses that lessen the tax impact to individual householders, types of taxable properties which St. Anthony-New Brighton is unable to add to its already densely developed city.
All local district financial and resource needs have risen through state mandated programs, however, by putting the funding of state mandated programs back onto local taxpayers, we may be unable to meet these mandates. Should we not pass our operating levy, the reduction of our school to only the mandated programs may still be unable to meet the needs of students and teachers, impacting retention and performance. And while we participate closely in state-wide and metro-wide collaborative efforts, we are proud of our small school district and proud of our ability to meet our student, teacher, and staff needs and use best-practices across all district operations, teaching, and learning. It is very difficult to create strategic plans and update standards-based teaching if we don’t have stable funding. Forcing us to ask our community for around ten times the amount of taxes per household per year as the neighboring districts is not stable funding and creates an opportunity disparity based on geography, such as between metro area districts and suburban districts.
Figure 2 – Based on a St. Anthony home valued at $330,000
Resources to help understand the issues:
- Legislative Action