Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News)- There will be a Rochester Public School District (RPS) referendum on the ballot for the second straight election. 

Read More: Rochester School Board Considers $19.4 Million Tax Increase Plan

Last year a $10 million technology referendum failed, prompting the district to make sweeping budget cuts that would’ve involved the closures of schools and cuts to other services. 

The belt tightening was averted thanks to a $10 million donation made by Mayo Clinic

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Earlier this year the RPS board approved taking advantage of a new state law that allows school districts to extend a previously passed operating levy one time for 10 years. 

Read More: RPS Board Takes Advantage of New MN Law to Extend Tax Without Referendum 

Despite the massive donation and extension of the 2015 levy, the district is once again facing the choice of raising taxes or trimming spending. 

RPS Board Signs Off on 2024 Referendum

Earlier this month RPS Superintendent Kent Pekel unveiled his recommendation for a referendum this fall.  

Pekel. Rochester Public Schools
Pekel. Rochester Public Schools

Pekel recommended seeking voter approval for a $19.4 million dollar property tax increase to support local school operations starting in the 2025-2026 school year and remaining in effect for 10 years. 

Rochester schools distance learning January 2022
Rochester Public Schools

He says that would boost the school district's per-pupil funding by $1133 per year while adding around $30 per month to the average property tax bill on homes valued at about $350,000 to $400,000. 

The superintendent's recommendations also include a provision that would allow the operating levy to rise at the rate of inflation. 

During a recent interview on KROC-AM’s Rochester Today, Pekel said the district would be forced to make sweeping cuts that would result in the closure of schools, an increase of class sizes and a reduction of staff and student services. You can listen to the full interview below. 

The RPS Board unanimously approved putting the tax increase to the voters on Tuesday. The referendum will be on the ballot for the General Election in November.

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Gallery Credit: Minnesota Now


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