Albert Lea parents speak out on school district operating levy

(ABC 6 News) – This November, people living in Albert Lea will head to the polls to vote on a $2 million referendum. Albert Lea Area Schools are asking taxpayers to renew their current operating levy and say if the levy is not renewed, teachers will lose their jobs and students will lose some electives. But some taxpayers in the city are speaking out against that dollar amount

"Local taxpayers fund district operations and by that I mean teacher salaries, books, technology," Superintendent Mike Funk said.

The district has around a $50 million budget. About $2 million of that comes from taxpayers, and they say losing that $2 million would have dramatic effects.

"So if parents are worried about their taxes or the financial impact, not renewing the net levy at a $0 increase it’s just going to be hurting them in the pocketbook in the long run," Funk said.

The referendum was last renewed in 2013. However, some parents say they’ve lost trust in the school system and want clearer information on what the levy money will be used on.

"This year we decided that in order to not have to ask our taxpayers for increased funding, we would use those federal funds to implement our technology replacement plan," Jennifer Walsh, director of finance for Albert Lea Area Schools said.

Residents would also like to know how much money the district received from the federal government. ABC 6 News spoke to several parents who aren’t necessarily against the referendum but are against the school board itself. The parents asked not to be identified, but they say the lack of support they get from the school board and superintendent makes it hard for them to renew the levy.

They cited an incident at a school board meeting last month. A school board member shouted at meeting attendees and can be heard saying:

"Shut them up. Madam Chair I don’t have to listen to this crap. I’m tired of it. This is bull."

Taxpayers can vote on this levy in a referendum ballot on Nov. 2.