Minneapolis voters' thoughts on next week's school levy

Levy campaign
Signs like these are scattered across lawns in Minneapolis, in support of next month's operating levy. If approved, property taxes would increase in the Minneapolis School District by about $200 a year for a $250,000 home.
MPR photo/Tom Weber

Minnesota Public Radio news asked Minneapolis voters who are also members of our Public Insight Network to weigh in on next week's school levy, which would raise $60 million a year from higher property taxes. Taxes on a $250,000 house would increase by about $200 a year.

Here are some of their responses:

Voting Yes

Karina Burston: "I'm torn. I have no children and my property taxes went up 50% last year. But education is an investment we can't afford not to make. I just have to assume the schools will use it wisely."

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Maria Rubinstein: "Last year, my son attended Seward Montessori School, which was woefully underfunded. I support this levy even though, as a single parent, the $200 a year is a big deal to me."

Josh Dix: "I honestly don't know much about the levy, but I typically vote yes for more education funding. It seems to be a relatively small amount of money, so I see no reason to vote against it."

Fred Pomroy: "I don't have kids myself, but I generally support school levies. I see taxes as an investment in our communities. Despite my low income and past property tax increases, I believe the greater good is served when our community institutions are adequately funded."

TJ Nowicki: "Our public schools are in trouble. We need to put our money where our complaints are. I don't even have any kids but how can we expect our future generations to take over this mess of an economy/planet unless we give them good tools on/from which to learn?"

Voting No

Judith James: "With every new levy the district's performance has gotten worse. There are schools in other districts that mirror the schools in Minneapolis in terms of poverty, race and early childhood education - those districts are educating students in those schools and graduating them. I think that the Minneapolis schools need to start over. This is the first time in my life I will not support a school referendum because the current crew in Minneapolis can not change a pattern that has been in place for 30 years."

Robert Seidel: "My property tax bill is based on an inflated assessment and I am paying far too much for the dubious privilege of living in Minneapolis while white flight depletes the city and a segregated school system is created between the suburbs and the city. We have been promised that the state will provide support for education. We have been promised property tax reform. Instead, a governor who would rather bridges fall down and prisons fill up than raise taxes spends millions on the Republican National Convention; Hennepin County adds to sales taxes to finance a stadium for the Twins; and the Mall of America gets a tax break. There may be one born every minute, but I'm leaving the sucker line." (Seidel is a University of Minnesota professor who also noted that next week's 'no' vote for him will mark the first time he's ever voted against a school levy)

Eric Pone, parent: "The North Minneapolis Schools will not see improvement when the top teachers refuse to teach in our schools and when wealthier neighborhoods are fundraising, winning the battles for high-tenure staff, and having access to enhanced neighborhood association support. This is systematic discrimination that results in their students receiving a disproportionate advantage over other areas of the city."

Veronica Ochoa: "They cannot even manage the monies they have now." (Ochoa later noted a program at Marcy Open School to introduce stability exercise balls in study hall - "How is this even an expense which is justifiable when we are passing a bunch of functionally illiterate kids through grades like cattle?")

Donald Willeke: "Minneapolis residents should not have to pay because there are so many disadvantaged people who live in the city. This should be a state responsibility."


Cari Lombardi: "I do not have children, and likely will not have children. I do own a house in Minneapolis -- taxes are already pretty high. I do want kids to get a good education, so I don't want to NOT support, but how much of that must/should the taxpayer bear?"