DULUTH — Residents here will again face a school finance question in a special referendum in May that narrowly failed in the November general election.
Voters are being asked to raise property taxes to raise $52 million over the next 10 years to fund technology programs in Duluth Public Schools. The same issue was rejected in November with 291 votes.
Superintendent John Magas said this week that a quick turnaround is needed, not only to take advantage of this severe deficit, but also to face staff and program cuts expected next year unless more funding is devoted to increasingly important aspects of education. said.
The difference this time is that more potential funding will be shifted to career and technical education. Duluth schools are a growing sector that is suffering from aging facilities, especially in design and engineering programs.
“We are in dire need,” said Danette Sebo, school administrator for career and technical education. “These programs are very popular and usually full. We use that room every hour of every day.”
Last year, nearly half of the district’s high school students took career or technical courses.
If the measure passes, owners of homes priced at the latest median price in Duluth, $315,000, would pay an additional $130 a year.
The funding will allow the district to replace more than 8,000 student learning devices, including Chromebooks, iPads, and outdated Smartboards and software, as needed. This will strengthen cybersecurity and building security and improve technical training for staff. It also applies to replacing expensive equipment used in robotics, welding, and other industries. For example, replacing three 3D printers would cost him $45,000, and a lab of three industry-standard computers for engineering and graphic arts would cost him $700,000.
Voters approved the small schools’ request last fall in a two-question vote that would allow them to refinance existing debt.