Rumors about the November 2009 levy:
Rumor: We have heard a rumor that the additional cost of the referendum levy renewal on the ballot Nov. 3 will be $2 a month each year for the eight years it is in effect. If that were true, it would cost an additional $16 a month by the time it expires.
The facts: NOT TRUE! After the first year (2010-11 school year), the levy will increase each year by the rate of inflation. The Minnesota Department of Finance estimates that the average $2 tax will increase to $2.34 cents the final year of the levy. This is based on information from a highly respected financial forecasting firm that consults with governments and corporations around the world.
If you want more information on the levy, check the district Web site at www.anoka.k12.mn.us/levy2009 .
Rumors about the November 2007 levy:
Click here to view the Question and Answer sections for the 2007 levy.
Click here to read "Question of the Week" items about the 2007 levy.
Rumor: The rumor in our neighborhood is that Roger Giroux was given a 9 percent pay raise, spread over the next three years, but that he took the whole 9 percent now in case the levy doesn't pass. Is this true?
The facts: Superintendent Giroux has not received a salary increase since Jan. 1, 2005. His current base salary is $155,000 with an opportunity to receive up to an additional $10,000 in performance incentives. In June of this last year, and in accordance with Minnesota Statute, the School Board approved a new three-year contract effective Jan. 1, 2008 through Dec. 31, 2010 contingent on successful completion of the current contract. The new contract will provide a base salary of $170,000 as well as performance incentives of up to $20,000. The new contract does not provide for any increases in salary during the three year contract term. The increase represents just over 3 percent average increase per year over a five to six year period and catches up Anoka-Hennepin's superintendent to be more comparable with other metro school districts (enrollment 40,657). In this regard, although Anoka-Hennepin is the largest school district in the state, several metro area school districts currently pay their superintendents total salary packages of $190,000 to $200,000 or more.
It is important to note that Supt. Giroux does not receive a car allowance, technology allowance or other business expenses.
Here are some superintendent salaries from other metro districts:
St. Paul - $187,464 plus performance compensation based on evaluation, $16,200 for car and expenses (enrollment 40,034)
Minneapolis - $194,100, vehicle allowance of not less than $400 per month (enrollment 36,337)
Rosemount - $179,900 (enrollment 27,617)
Osseo - $185,000 (enrollment 21,700)
Robbinsdale - $166,425 plus $8,321 performance bonus, $9,600 auto, phone technology and tuition allowance (enrollment 13,044)
Elk River - $160,000 plus $7,500 performance bonus and $7,200 car allowance (enrollment 11,803)
Bloomington - $160,000 (enrollment 10,346)
Edina - $175,100 plus $8,400 additional compensation (7,495 students)
Rumor: I heard the cost of the new levy will be an extra $600 a year for the owner of an average home in the district. That's more than the district's materials said it would be. They are hiding the true cost.
The facts: The additional tax cost of the Anoka-Hennepin School District levy and bond proposal would not be $600 a year for a home valued at $250,000, it would be $330 per year, or approximately $28 per month, if all four questions on the ballot were approved. This is in addition to the $22 per month homeowners are currently paying for the levy approved in 2002 that is now expiring. As stated in the district's levy mailing, Your Schools, Your Community, Your Choice, the total cost would be $594 a year, which includes the new amount plus the tax people have been paying for the levy voters approved in 2002.
A tax calculator is available on the district Web site at: www.anoka.k12.mn.us. Thank you citizens for your interest in these critical issues.
Rumor: I have heard that "Levy Yes" yard signs are only being given to parents in Anoka-Hennepin and not all residents. The purpose being that if more residents go to the polls, that are not parents, the levy will fail.
The facts: The Anoka-Hennepin School District is not involved in the creation, printing or distribution of lawn signs for the 2007 levy. Under state law, the district cannot encourage a yes or no vote on a ballot question. Its job is to provide information. Election lawn signs are created by an independent organization.
Rumor: I heard that Andover Elementary was going to change to grades one through six if the levy doesn't pass. Is that true?
The facts: If questions 1 and 2 do not pass, it is possible that schools will be reconfigured. If the levy is not approved, the School Board would implement the list of cuts it approved in September. This includes closing up to six elementary schools, up to two middle schools and up to one high school. This will require a change in all attendance area boundaries. It may also change the grade structure at all levels: elementary to kindergarten through six (not grades one through six), middle school to seven through nine, high school to 10 through 12.
No decisions have been made yet about which schools will be closed if the levy is not approved. Many factors will be considered and the district is now in the process of gathering data to help make this decision. The list of potential cuts is available to view on the district Web site, Levy 2007 News section.
Rumor: I've heard that the district pays $2,000 for Apple computers when Dell computers can be purchased for $1,200. Is that true?
The facts: The average cost of Apple computers purchased by the district is well below $1,000, according to Patrick Plant, director of technology. For example, the purchase price has been as low as $615, which was the cost of our current entry-levy classroom computers for kindergarten through grade eight.
In addition, the district also purchases PCs. Recently; six-year-old high school classroom computers were replaced with Dell computers at a cost of $815 each. The six-year-old computers were then repurposed to meet student needs elsewhere in the district, replacing even older computers.
Rumor: I heard that people who rent an apartment or a home cannot vote in the levy or bond election, only property owners can vote. Is that true?
The facts: No, all citizens are eligible to vote in school levy and bond elections regardless of whether or not they own property within the school district. Renters will not directly pay taxes associated with school levies and bonds, but they may see the added cost reflected in their rent.
Rumor: Small businesses are going to have a difficult time paying a property tax increase for the levy because they pay so much more than homeowners.
The facts: The property tax for the levy is based on the value of the property, whether it is a home or a business. However, the tax increase for the bond would be a bit higher for business. For the levy, the owner of a business valued at $500,000 would pay the same amount of property tax as the owner of a home of the same value, however the business owner would pay $56 more per year for the bond than the homeowner. The state determines the basis for taxation of various types, not the school district.
Business owners and homeowners can check out the impact of the levy and bond on their property taxes by using the tax calculator on the district Web site: www.anoka.k12.mn.us. Click on the link in the "A-H News" scrolling text section.
Rumor: I heard that Champlin Park High School hired 60 more teachers this year. The district can't be that short of money if it can hire 60 more teachers for just one school.
The facts: Champlin Park High School hired 18 teachers this year. Most were hired to replace teachers who resigned, or retired, or moved to another teaching position. In general, changes in staff occur in the high schools because the need for teachers is determined, at least in part, by the courses students choose. Some years, or semesters, fewer teachers are needed to teach in a particular subject, while more are needed in another. Sometimes additional teachers are needed because of changes in enrollment.
Rumor: I've heard that a district committee working on school closings has identified my school to be closed next year if the levy fails.
The facts: Several administrators have begun gathering facts to be used in making decisions about closing schools if that becomes necessary. At this point, there isn't a formal school closing committee, and no one has identified which schools would be considered for closing.
Rumor: I heard that if voters approve the levy, the money goes to the state and then the state decides which school districts will get it. There's no guarantee that our schools are going to get the money they contribute if the levy is approved.
The facts: All property taxes are collected by the county. The county distributes them to the school district, so all property taxes paid for school purposes by Anoka-Hennepin School District residents go to the Anoka-Hennepin School District.
Rumor: I heard the superintendent hired a friend several years ago and this employee is getting a six-figure salary.
The facts: The superintendent has never hired a friend. Most decisions about hiring are made by principals, directors of departments, or associate superintendents, not by the superintendent. In fact, when asked about this rumor, the superintendent indicated that he has few friends, and none that he would hire!
Rumor: I heard that the cost of the levy will be $400 a month for the average homeowner. I can't afford that!
The facts: The average monthly cost, based on a home valued at $250,000, will depend on how many of the four ballot questions are approved. Taxpayers are currently paying approximately $22 a month for the existing 2002 levy. If all four questions are approved they will pay an additional $28 a month. The total cost will be approximately $50 a month.
Rumor: I heard that my child's school will be torn down if the levy is not approved.
The facts: No decisions have been made about which schools will be closed if the levy is not approved. Many factors will be considered and the district is now in the process of gathering data to help make this decision. It is very unlikely that any school buildings will be torn down. They may be used for other programs. Currently, the district rents space for a number of programs. The district could move these programs into school buildings that may close.
Rumor: I heard that the reason the district needs more money from this levy is that it is running most schools half empty because of enrollment decline.
The facts: This is not true. Most schools are full and some schools must use portable classrooms to accommodate students. The district hit its peak enrollment in 2004 at 40,151 kindergarten through grade 12 students in regular schools on October 1, the day official enrollment figures are calculated for the year. (This does not include approximately 1,650 students in alternative schools, K-12 special education sites and Early Childhood Special Education programs.) Enrollment is fairly stable with slight decline. Last year the district had 39,919 students in regular schools. The official enrollment count for this year has not yet been calculated. Board members and administrators have discussed the need to close schools or use them for other uses if enrollment declines to the point where one or more schools is no longer needed because operating space that is not needed is costly. The district leases space for a number of educational programs for which there is no space in school buildings. Some programs in leased space may move into school buildings if the space is no longer needed for K-12 programs.
Rumor: I have heard that Andover High School will close if the fall levy fails and all the Andover students will go to Coon Rapids and Blaine High Schools. Is the district considering this to any extent? Which schools are they considering closing?
The facts: There are no plans at this time to close Andover High School if voters do not approve the levy in November. If levy Questions 1 and 2 fail, the district will need to cut $41 to $42 million in staffing, programs and services for next school year. Several schools will likely close. Neither the School Board nor the administration have begun discussing which schools will close. They will develop criteria to use in determining which schools would close. Many questions will need to be answered before decisions are made, such as: Are the classrooms large enough for large numbers of students? Is the school's air handling system adequate to handle large numbers of students in individual classrooms?
Rumor: I have heard that the district plans to close two schools even if the levy passes.
The facts: The School Board does not have plans to close schools. There has been some general discussion that there may be a need to close schools if enrollment declines in the coming years. Operating more schools than necessary to accommodate enrollment is not cost effective.