Community Survey Results

Community Survey Results Show Support for ISD 199 Levies
Posted on 07/26/2017
ISD 199 LogoResidents of the Inver Grove Heights School District give it high grades overall and for the quality of its financial management, according to a survey conducted during the last two weeks of May. Springsted, public sector advisors that provide market research and interpretation to school districts, conducted a stratified random-sample telephone survey of 400 residents. A stratified random-sample survey aims to mirror the community’s voter demographics with its respondents. Questions included perceptions of the district and reactions to potential levy options, which board members used to inform their decision to approve an operating levy and a capital projects levy for November 2017.
Springsted consultant Don Lifto presented highlights of the survey results to the school board during the June 12 board work session.

Survey details are below:
  • When asked to grade ISD 199 on quality, 80% of community members gave the district an A or B.  This is significantly higher than the national average of 60% A’s and B’s. 
  • When asked to grade the district’s financial management, 67% of respondents gave it an A or B.  When compared to 2013 responses, the number of A’s and B’s increased from 55% and the number of D’s and F’s decreased from 17% to 12%.
  • More than 75% supported the renewal of the two existing voter-approved levies set to expire in 2019 and 2023 to maintain class sizes and provide support for struggling students, teaching positions, programs for advanced learners, and student opportunities in band, theater, and sports.
  • More than 65% supported an increase of the operating levy to offer more support for student mental health and behavior needs, more college prep programs at the middle and high schools, and vocational, technical, and career programming.
  • There was 63% support for a capital projects levy that, as an example, would provide students with access to digital content, replace large musical instruments, and replace outdated textbooks and curriculum materials.
  • When asked about their support for an operating levy and a capital projects levy, 68% of respondents said they would support one or both levies. Less than a third said they would oppose both levies, and 23% said they would never support a tax increase, regardless of the amount or how it was used. 
Click here to view Springsted’s presentation of the community survey results. After hearing Springsted’s positive survey results and considering the district’s choices for a levy at the June board meetings, the ISD 199 School Board voted to approve two ballot questions at its July 24 meeting: Revoke the two current levies set to expire in 2019 and 2023 and replace them with one increased levy, and authorize a capital projects levy.

In addition to the survey results, the board’s decision to approve both levies is based on goals of increasing career and college readiness, remaining competitive, and stabilizing district finances despite underfunding by the state.

Since 2003, state general education funding has not kept up with inflation. This, in addition to declining enrollment, caused a budget shortfall of $1.2 million for the 2017-2018 school year and a projected budget shortfall of $1.2 million for the 2018-2019 school year. The school district adjusted for the 2017-2018 shortfall but is going to voters this November to help our schools receive the necessary funding for operation.

The levies will also support increased career and college readiness, part of the district’s strategic plan that was established in 2015. Not only will the levies provide funding for vocational and technical opportunities and college prep, it will also address student mental health needs so every student is prepared for success in the classroom.

Currently, Inver Grove Heights Schools has one of the smallest budgets per pupil in Dakota County. Even if both levies pass, the school district will still have the second to lowest budget per pupil in the county. However, the levies will allow the district to avoid budget cuts, keep class sizes small, and invest in high-priority teaching and learning initiatives.