The Student News Site of Columbia Heights High School

The Heights Herald

The Student News Site of Columbia Heights High School

The Heights Herald

The Student News Site of Columbia Heights High School

The Heights Herald

Local election yields promising results for CHPS students, schools

Pro-referendum+signs+proliferated+the+yards+of+Columbia+Heights+homes.
Ariane Kokes
Pro-referendum signs proliferated the yards of Columbia Heights homes.

Three items were on the local ballot this November, and all three involved Columbia Heights Public Schools (CHPS): a special election to cover the open school board seat, the district’s Capital Projects Levy referendum and CHPS’s Operating Levy referendum. 

Incumbent Director Michelle Pettway was the lucky candidate to win the special school board election. She was serving the rest of former board member Naty Severson’s term by appointment until the special election could be held, and because of this, she was able to already complete the required training for Minnesota school board members and build a stronger connection to the community. A devoted parent of an elementary schooler at North Park School for Innovation, Pettway hopes to build more equity in the district, continuing to uplift the voices of families of historically marginalized backgrounds. Lastly, Pettway plans to keep advocating for increased funding for CHPS at the state and federal level in order for students and staff to have amazing opportunities and educational experiences. 

Levies are just one of these many pieces that go into how a school district gets funding, specifically when there are financial gaps that need to be filled by local taxpayers. While the majority of district funding (around 76%) comes from federal and state allocations, a smaller portion of funds come from levies that require voter approval and are directly funded by property taxes that are paid by homeowners within the district’s boundaries (which, for CHPS, includes Columbia Heights, Hilltop and southern Fridley). The increase in property taxes for any given homeowner is dependent on both the property’s value and how many students are enrolled in a given academic year. This is the first time in 18 years that the Operating Levy will be increased for CHPS. 

The Capital Projects Levy referendum, on the other hand, was just a renewal of the same amount of funding given by the levy previously, allowing for regular maintenance of buildings, security measures and technology over the course of the next 10 years unless otherwise revoked or reduced.

The funding that will be provided by these voter-approved levies won’t be available until the 2024-2025 school year, but CHPS administration is hopeful that this new funding will be able to end the massive budget cuts that the district has been experiencing the past few years. The funding that will be available per student in the CHPS district will be increased to $827 from the current $309, a nearly 300% increase that places Columbia Heights closer to wealthier adjacent suburbs like St. Anthony.

While this increase in funding won’t solve all of the financial issues that CHPS faces, just like so many other public school districts do, it is definitely a step in the right direction and will hopefully lead to a better educational experience for all — students, families and staff alike — overall in the near future.

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About the Contributor
Caroline Raleigh
Caroline Raleigh, Co-Editor-In-Chief

Caroline Raleigh is a senior at CHHS. This is her second year on staff, now as Editor-In-Chief after being a Staff Writer last year. She is the Chair of both the Youth In Government and Model United Nations program. She also serves as one of the CHHS representatives on the YMCA's State Steering Committee. Caroline is also involved with speech, lacrosse, Link Crew, cross country, student leadership and student council. She is also returning as one of the Student School Board Representatives for Columbia Heights Public Schools for a second year in a row.