Duluth Schools Superintendent Proposes Levy Referendums

By KBJR News 1

August 13, 2013 Updated Aug 13, 2013 at 10:38 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - As students spend the last few weeks soaking up summer break, Duluth officials are already planning for the school year ahead and with the current tax levy set to expire, school administrators may turn to the voters for help.

"Duluth citizens want something better for our students."

Superintendent of Duluth Schools, Bill Gronseth is making it his mission to give Duluth students a better learning experience.

From closing the achievement gap, to raising graduation rates and enhancing curriculums, Gronseth says these are some of the problems that need to be tackled.

"The number one priority that citizens brought up, time and time again was our class size and that's certainly connected directly to funding," said Bill Gronseth, Superintendent of Duluth Schools.

There are three possible options on the table that would guarantee $1.1 million in matching funds from the state to help address the problems.

The first would require voters to approve the extension of the current levy.

Gronseth is also proposing a second question asking homeowners to invest an additional $1.8 million dollars to fund K through 12 education.

The third option would simply allow the school board to extend the levy on its own.

"The options that I presented to the board last night all three of them generate the same total amount," said Gronseth.

New state legislation gives the school board the authority to bypass Duluth voters and extend the current levy.

It's a move school board member Art Johnston and a few other board members don't want to see happen.

"I think it would be a big mistake to have a board approved levy, traditionally people always have a right to vote on an operating levy or excess levies as they're called, and if you take away the right again in Duluth for them to be able to have a say on that, it's not going to go over good," said Art Johnston, Duluth School Board.

It's a decision that both Gronseth and Johnston agree on and they hope, given the opportunity, district residents will vote to invest in the success of their students.

The Duluth School Board is expected to decide which direction to take at its next meeting on August 20th.

If board members decide to call for a referendum voters will cast their ballots in the November election.

Jeremy Brickley
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