OPEN ENROLLMENT FAQs
Proposed Plan Map (PDF)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a Levy? Bond?
Levies are for learning; bonds are for buildings.
An operating levy is for funds that the district uses to run and operate its schools. Levies are for running the educational programs at the school and funds go to the district’s general fund.
Bond levies are for funds that the school district uses for new construction, updates to existing facilities,
and other additions to school properties.
The Pierz Schools 2018 Referendum is for a bond levy to pay for construction and renovation of facilities.
Why does the district allow open-enrollment of students from other districts?
State law requires all school districts to receive students who open enroll from another district.
Are you considering capping open-enrollment?
Yes, the school board began a process to cap open enrollment at its December 2017 board meeting.
According to state law, schools that are full can “cap” open enrollment, but it cannot be completely eliminated; any district in Minnesota must still accept open enrolled students up to 1% of any given grade’s enrollment. “Our district growth is directly related to the quality of our schools,” says Superintendent George Weber. “Open enrollment served us well, stabilizing our revenue and allowing us to maintain a full range of academic programming, but now is the time to put a limit on it.”
It is important to note that all existing open enrolled students are required by law to be able to stay in Pierz schools. The board will need to write policies and procedures to cap enrollment including creating an application process and a limit to the number of students in each grade.
What is the impact of the School Building Bond Agricultural Credit (Ag2School)?
The Ag2School Tax Credit is one of the more notable outcomes of the recently completed 2017 special legislative session and creates a fairer state share of school facility costs by targeting property tax relief to farm property for taxes paid on school bonds. The 40 percent bond credit, known, as Ag2School will take effect with property taxes certified in December of 2017 and payable in calendar year 2018. Impacted property includes all class 2a (homestead and non-homestead ag land), 2b (rural vacant land) and 2c (managed forest land) property except the dwelling value (house, garage and one acre) of the property. Impacted property owners will see the reduction in the upper right-hand corner of their Truth-in-Taxation notices. The Ag2School credit applies to all current and future general obligation debt payments including this upcoming voter approved bond request.
Want to learn more on your specific property?
Contact Ehler’s, the school district’s financial advisor, to help calculate your tax impact. Call 1-800- 552-1171 or email MNSchools@ehlers-inc.com with your parcel information.
Can the School Building Bond Agricultural Credit (AG2Schools) be repealed?
Not easily. The Minnesota Rural Education Association (MREA), representing 225 Minnesota school districts at the capitol, the Minnesota School Boards Association (MSBA), representing all 331 Minnesota school districts believe the Ag2Schools bond credit is here to stay. It is permanent law, existing into
perpetuity. Repealing or reducing the credit would mean a vote for raising taxes on the backs of rural Minnesota farmers, which is not politically appealing.
Here’s what our local legislators have to say about the Ag2Schools tax credit:
"The Ag2School tax credit, which passed during the 2017 legislative session, means 40% of the cost of existing, proposed, and future construction bond issues on agricultural land will be paid for by the State of Minnesota, with the balance of the cost to be assessed to property under the existing formula.
It is important to note that the Ag2School tax credit is permanent law in Minnesota – it has no automatic sunset date. It would take specific legislative action, and the governor’s approval, to revoke this tax credit. The provision had strong bipartisan support in the legislature."
- Representative Ron Kresha (R)
"Since I am the Majority Leader, serve the on the Tax Committee, and made this one of my top priorities, I have NO intention of letting it go away."
- Senator Paul Gazelka (R)
Do I pay a lot of school taxes?
No. Residents of the Pierz School District are paying significantly less property taxes for schools than
residents of surrounding districts and less than the state average. On average, approximately $2,664 per
student in local property taxes are collected from Minnesota residents; $928 per student is collected
from Pierz District residents. Click here to see comparisons of school property taxes.
I don’t have any students in the district. Why should I support this referendum?
Education is the first step to an effective workforce. What students learn today could fuel the community’s economy tomorrow. Research shows that property values are higher near good schools. Residents and businesses use good schools as selection criteria when relocating. An increased commercial and residential tax base spreads the cost of public investments across more properties and can lessen tax impacts over time.
How come the school district hasn't maintained their facilities properly over time? Shouldn’t these things have been taken care of?
We do a great job maintaining our facilities – please come visit anytime to see for yourself! We are very committed to investing in the day-to- day maintenance of our buildings, and we give credit to the planning and scheduling we do for building maintenance projects and the great job our maintenance crew does to keep our buildings aesthetically clean and pleasant. Our facilities issues are bigger than maintenance, however.
For example, code compliance in the kitchen is due to changing standards – it met code when it was built (in the 1960s); however, it no longer does, and it will take significant capital funds to bring it up to today’s standards. Likewise, we’ve run out of space for preschool and elementary classrooms, requiring new construction to meet demand.
What if the Referendum Doesn't Pass?
Frankly, it will be disappointing. We have delivered a great service bringing people into our communities, building a reputation as a terrific school system, while districts around us were cutting programs and staff, and yet we still have the same local taxes as 27 years ago.
It is our duty to communicate the impact of your ‘Yes’ vote, as well as your ‘No’ vote.
If the referendum is not approved, the School Board would most likely consider the following moves:
None of these solutions fix the need for physical space for children at the elementary school. There is no short-term rental solution to that problem.
The model in Minnesota is that operational funds are for annual costs and LTFM funds are for repairs. Construction Bonds are supposed to cover needed new or remodeled facilities. Those bonds need voter approval. Ideally, classroom needs are met with high quality construction paid for through voter approved bonds that will serve the district for 50+ years, like the Healy building has. As you can see, there is no decent, long-term answer to the question; what if it fails?
JUST THE FACTS
School districts are required by law to not advocate for or against ballot questions –
we can only provide facts. If you hear something in the community that doesn’t seem quite right, please turn to Pierz Schools for information. You’ll find it in this brochure, on our website and on our Facebook page. Our goal is for all voters to know the impact of a yes vote and a no vote, and to make an informed decision. Please contact me via email @ firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 320-468- 6458 with any questions.
Please get the facts and make an informed decision. And vote on or before Vote April 10.
~George Weber, Superintendent