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FAQ: General
1. When is the date of the election?
2. Why do we need a referendum?
3. What would the referendum fund?
4. How long would this referendum be in effect?
5. When will we know what the questions will be on the ballot?
6. Where do I vote?
7. How do I register to vote? Do I need to be a registered voter?
8. How do I request an absentee ballot?
9. Why will we see a deficit if we raise more money? (Added 6.25.15)
10. Why is RPS holding an election this year? (Added 8.7.15)
11. Can school board members have yard signs, ride in parade floats, join referendum committees that are in favor of vote yes or vote no? (Added 10.6.15)
12. Can school district employees publicly take a stand regarding vote yes or vote no for the referendum? (Added 10.6.15)
13. Why was the Assistant Superintendent position created? (Added 10.22.15)
14. How do people in senior living (such as Shorewood, The Waters, and Charter House) pay property tax? (Added 10.30.15)
15. Do individuals that are renters have to pay the property tax increase due to the referendum? (Added 10.30.15)
16. Did RPS break the law by allowing The Alliance for Strong Schools to send a flier through Peachjar? (Added 11.2.15)


Q:
When is the date of the election?
A:
November 3, 2015

Q:
Why do we need a referendum?
A:
The expenditures for RPS exceed the revenue. For the past several school years RPS has been spending down the fund balance in order to maintain quality educational programming for all students. The fund balance is projected to reach 6% (the minimum amount as established by board policy). The legislature’s formula allowance has increased by 13.5% over a 10 year period. During that same 10 year period the Consumer Price Index increased 27.1%. A further problem arises because the legislature hasn’t appropriated enough funds to fully fund the formulas that have been established. One example of this is in the area of transportation for students who qualify for specialized transportation per their Individualized Education Plan. While the formula establishes 100% reimbursement, the state doesn’t fully fund the formula, therefore RPS has to cover the difference.

When comparing the level of operating referendum currently in place for Rochester, the district generates approximately $527 per pupil less than the state average. This amounts to a difference of over $9,400,000 per year.

Q: What would the referendum fund?
A:
The referendum would fund the course offerings at CTECH as well as maintain current course offerings in our middle schools and high schools. The referendum would also enable RPS to maintain the class sizes in our elementary grades. The referendum would ensure that the our schools receive the necessary materials and supplies to enhance the teaching and learning in our classrooms.

Q: How long would this referendum be in effect?
A:
This will be in effect for 10 years.

Q: When will we know what the questions will be on the ballot?
A:
The board of Independent School District No. 535 (Rochester), Minnesota has proposed to revoke the School District's existing referendum revenue authorization of $578.38 per pupil that is scheduled to expire after taxes payable in 2016 and to replace that authorization with a new authorization of $836.82 per pupil, subject to an annual increase at the rate of inflation. The proposed referendum revenue authorization would be applicable for ten (10) years unless otherwise revoked or reduced as provided by law.

Q: Where do I vote?
A:
You can find your polling location here: http://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us/

Q: How do I register to vote? Do I need to be a registered voter?
A:
You can learn more about registering to vote here: https://mnvotes.sos.state.mn.us/VoterRegistration/VoterRegistrationStep1.aspx. You can register at your polling location the day of the election.

Q: How do I request an absentee ballot?
A: 
Absentee voting for the Rochester School District Election starts September 18th, 2015 and ends November 2, 2015. To vote in-person go to the Edison Building, Business Services Office at 615 7th St. SW. Monday through Friday 7:30 am - 5:00 pm, and Saturday, October 31st from 10am-3pm. Please enter on the west end of the building, door 2. 

To have a ballot mailed to you, please print and fill out the Absentee Ballot Application and mail it to: 

Rochester School District 535
Business Services Office
615 7th St SW
Rochester, MN 55902
Or call, 507-328-4210 and an application can be mailed to you.

Q: Why will we see a deficit if we raise more money? (Added 6.25.15)
A:
If we bring RPS to the state average which is $836.32/pupil an increase of $527.03/pupil, RPS does not anticipate having a budget shortfall through the ’19-’20 school year.

The increases in state aid have not kept pace with the inflation in RPS, as well as districts statewide. RPS has been using the fund balance over the past several years to avoid substantial budget cuts in our classrooms and schools. RPS has made budget cuts at the district level for the past several years. RPS is projected to reach a fund balance of 6% at the end of the ’15-’16 school year. Board policy dictates that the fund balance may not go below 6%.

Over a 10 year period RPS has received a 13.5% increase through the funding formula at the state level. The CPI (Consumer Price Index) for this same period was 27.1%.

There are some instances in which the formula established is not fully funded. For example, if RPS were to receive all of the money as prescribed by the funding formulas, an additional $2,287,000 would have been received as revenue for the 2013-2014 school year.

Q: Why is RPS holding an election this year? (Added 8.7.15)
A: 
In order for RPS to avoid budget cuts for the '16-'17 school year the increase in revenue generated by the referendum will be payable in calendar year 2016 which ensures the increased revenue for the '16-'17 school year.

Q: Can school board members have yard signs, ride in parade floats, join referendum committees that are in favor of vote yes or vote no? (Added 10.6.15)
A: 
Yes, As long as school board members are not utilizing school district dollars to support a vote yes or a vote no case regarding the referendum as private citizens they can publicly support the efforts of vote yes or vote no groups. The brochure attached provides specific information regarding this topic. (Click Here to view brochure)

Q: Can school district employees publicly take a stand regarding vote yes or vote no for the referendum? (Added 10.6.15)
A: 
Yes. Any school district employee that is off duty time may support a vote yes or a vote no for the referendum. District employees may join referendum committees, display yard signs, wear vote yes or vote no shirts while not on duty time. School district employees may also share vote yes or vote no information through social media when not on duty time.

Q: Why was the Assistant Superintendent position created? (Added 10.22.15)
A: 
This position was created in June, 2013. This position was actually a significant cost savings to the district. This position replaced two positions the Executive Director of Elementary Education as well the Executive Director of Secondary Education. The Assistant Superintendent position provides direct support to all sites within the district. This position is also responsible for working with families and community members who have questions or concerns that need to be addressed. The Assistant Superintendent is also responsible for evaluating the principals in the district. These evaluations need to be conducted by an administrator with a Superintendent licensure. The Assistant Superintendent also oversees Records and Registration, Transportation, Student Nutrition Services, English Learners, and Athletics/Activities. This position is also responsible for responding to building level emergencies as well as bus accidents and other urgent matters.

Q: How do people in senior living (such as Shorewood, The Waters, and Charter House) pay property tax? (Added 10.30.15)
A: 
Residents in the above mentioned senior living communities are not subject to property tax increases as a result of the referendum. Property tax is assessed on the owner of the property. Residents of senior living communities are not the property owner, therefore they are not subject to property tax.

Q: Do individuals that are renters have to pay the property tax increase due to the referendum? (Added 10.30.15)
A: 
No. Property owners are responsible for paying property taxes.

Q: Did RPS break the law by allowing The Alliance for Strong Schools to send a flier through Peachjar? (Added 11.2.15)
A: 
Peachjar is an eflyer management system. RPS receives multiple fliers from community organizations and businesses. This management system allows for families to receive these fliers in a manner in which fiscal resources of the district are not expended on the distribution of third party fliers. PTSAs have the ability to utilize Peachjar to distribute information on behalf their organization. The fliers from the alliance were distributed from the PTSA. If the PTSA asks the district to distribute fliers regarding the referendum through any community referendum group, including a "vote no" group, the district would distribute those unless they were inconsistent with School Board Policy 904, which addresses the distribution of materials by third parties. In the case of the referendum, RPS is not aware of any "vote no" group submitting a request to distribute a flier through Peachjar.

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