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For the first time since 2002, referendum passes in District 622

School District 622

After a tough year, Tuesday's election delivered some good news to District 622 superintendent Christine Osorio.

Voters approved the district's first operating levy increase for North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale Schools since 2002.

"It means that we're going to be able to invest in those key areas that we've been talking about maintaining existing programs, support for struggling learners school safety and accelerated learning."

It also means some relief from money woes. The district has cut 85 teacher positions in the past two years.Without the levy, they were facing at least a $3 million projected deficit this spring, Osorio said.

"We're really pleased with the leadership of parents and community members who stepped up to support this levy," she said."We had support from all three mayors, North St. Paul, Maplewood, and Oakdale. "

The money won't come into the district until the 2017-18 school year. The $6.5 million generated every year—5 percent of the district's current operating budget - works out to $630 per pupil. The money will support for struggling learners, improvement of student and school safety, and expansion of accelerated learning opportunities

"I think one of the things that was really exciting was the true effort that was made by staff and parents, who started actively communicating about the levy and holding public events and rallies and parades," Osorio said.

Safety measures would include anti-bullying training, safety and emergency upgrades, security cameras, a more integrated system with local law enforcement, and additional mental health and behavior staff.

Additional opportunities for advanced learners would include skipping grades in math, gaining more college credits, increased program access, and improved competitiveness with neighboring districts.

The levy's passage means that the owner of an average-priced home in the district ($190,000) would pay $187 a year or $15.58 a month during the 10-year term of the funding stream.

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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