Thank you for your support!

A heartfelt thank you to the School District 197 community for supporting increased local funding for our students, staff, and schools. Both levy questions passed.

  • Question 1 Operating Levy Increase: 60% YES
  • Question 2 Technology Levy Renewal: 67% YES

We are honored by the trust our community has continually shown in the District. We will continue to be good stewards of our community’s tax dollars to support students and staff through excellent programs, services, and opportunities.

School District 197 sought voter approval for two levies this fall.

One levy would renew an existing technology levy set to expire, and the other would invest in a new operating levy.

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What's on the Ballot?

Question 1

Approve a $731 per-student operating levy increase. The additional funds will enable the district to maintain class sizes and avoid budget cuts to programs and staff. 

If question #1 were approved, property taxes would increase $153 per year for the average-priced $350,000 home in our area (around $12.75 per month).

LEARN MORE About the Operating Levy

Question 2

Renew the previously approved capital project levy (also called the technology levy), which provides district-wide technology infrastructure and network improvements, the purchase of student and staff devices, updates to classroom technologies, and more.

Approval of the capital project levy would not result in an increase in property taxes.

LEARN MORE About the Technology Levy

Why Now?

School District 197 is projecting a $2.1 million budget shortfall over three years due to a lack of funding for general and special education, decreased spending power due to inflation, and increased needs from students across all of our schools.

The Ongoing Funding Gap

For decades, state education funding has not kept pace with inflation and the cost of educating our students. If education funding had kept pace with inflation, our schools would have $6.9 million more in buying power every year—the equivalent of up to 80 more teachers in our classrooms today.

Levies Fill Funding Gaps

When school districts face a budget shortfall, the options are to make budget cuts and/or ask voters to increase local revenues through a levy referendum election. More than 90% of Minnesota school districts—including School District 197—rely on a local operating levy to help fund basic costs, teacher salaries and benefits, and avoid budget cuts.
If voters approve the levy referendum requests, it would stabilize the District’s funding so that the earliest the school board plans to return to the voters with another levy request would be 15 to 20 years from now.
Funds will be used to:
  • Maintain class sizes and instructional support.
  • Provide financial stability to continue our excellent academic programs and services for students.
  • Retain and attract the best teachers and staff.
  • Provide district-wide technology infrastructure and network improvements.
  • Purchase and maintain technology devices for students and staff.
  • Pay the salaries of technology staff and the cost of training.

Tax Impact: Lower Than Almost All Metro Districts

For a home value of $350,000 (the average home value in our school district), School District 197 has lower total school property taxes than almost all districts in the Twin Cities. Of the 47 school districts in the metro area, School District 197 ranks #45 in total school property taxes—the third lowest tax rate. See the tax rate comparison of all 47 AMSD (Association of Metro School District) here.

When you look closer to home, we have the lowest tax rate of all of our neighboring districts.

If both levies are approved, our school district taxes will still be at or near the lowest in our neighborhood and the metro area.


Strong Community Support 

Our community recognizes the value our schools and staff bring to our community. In a June 2023 survey for School District 197 families...

Financial Accountability

Up to now, we’ve kept budget cuts away from our classrooms by creatively making budget adjustments and saving in other areas. We've stood firm in maintaining optimal class sizes while neighboring districts have seen expansions. Here are ways we have upheld our commitment to financial stewardship:

  • We spend one-third less than the metro average on all forms of administration costs.
  • We create opportunities for students by partnering with neighboring school districts, like TriDistrict CAPS (Centers for Advanced Professional Studies), a college and career-readiness program offered in partnership with the school districts of South St. Paul and Inver Grove Heights.
  • We save more than $1 million each year in our energy efficiency practices and solar power offsets.
  • We made administrative cuts around 2013. Those positions have not come back even with enrollment increasing during most of this time.
  • Our team spends a significant amount of time writing grants to provide expanded services without extra funds. A few examples of grants that we have received recently are Minnesota Department of Education’s Grow Your Own Program Grant and the Expansion of Rigorous Course Opportunities and Support Grant.
  • We work with the ISD197 Educational Foundation to support teachers with classroom materials and instructional support.

For the last 5+ years, School District 197 has been awarded the Minnesota Department of Education School Finance Award Recipient for our financial reporting and accountability.