Breaking: Voters approve operating levy referendum for APS

Published 11:49 pm Tuesday, November 8, 2022

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After two unsuccessful attempts at passing an operating levy referendum, voters on Tuesday approved Austin Public School’s latest attempt.

The ballot question passed 4,401 to 3,660.

“It’s wonderful,” said Superintendent Dr. Joey Page late Tuesday night. “It’s great news. We’re especially pleased we were able to have a dialogue with the community members of the needs of our school district. The dialog is going to continue.”

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At its heart per student spending will now be elevated from $42.70 to $512.70 and will generate tax revenue of around $2.48 million.

APS’ operating levy has been historically low but was buoyed by a rising student enrollment, however, in the last couple of years that enrollment had plateaued.

Austin’s earlier failed attempts raised the specter of possibly having to cut programming and staff if this third attempt hadn’t gone through.

APS worked hard from the beginning to get the word out and thoroughly educated the public on why the referendum needed to be passed. That dialogue seems to have worked.

“Nothing is given, it has to be earned,” Page said. “If you’re going to be out for a vote, let’s get out early.”

The importance of this passed referendum is only heightened by upcoming needs of the district that will include infrastructure concerns in the face of a predicted growth in enrollment, which the district is already seeing in the kindergarten levels.

For the time being though, the district can breath a sign of relief as it begins planning for the immediate future.

“We are planning for the 23-24 school year,” Page said. “A big part of that is what our budget looks like and we had that answered tonight.”

“We’ve been committed to find ways to predict the education priorities of the district,” Page continued. “To make the most of every single dollar our residents put in the school.”