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Fargo Public Schools Spends Over State Mill Cap - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Fargo Public Schools Spends Over State Mill Cap

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With the Fargo Public School Special Election less than 24 hours away, Valley News Live decided to ask why is the school district spending over the state mandated cap.

North Dakota law mandates the election every ten years to give voters a chance to review their school board's authority to raise levies above the state-mandated cap of 70 mills. Currently Fargo Public Schools is spending 139 mills, which is 69 mills over the cap.

Before we jump in to how the district is spending your tax dollars let's go through a quick refresher on what a mill is. A mill is a measurement of property worth, and the mill levy is the tax.

One mill for a $100,000 home is worth about $4.50. Currently the school district taxes you at the mill rate of 139 mills, that gives them a total of $161 million dollars each year. About $40 million come from property tax. Fargo Public Schools says that is what is needed to operate the district.

"That is the number the state thinks districts should be assessing locally to meet as what they define as a quality education," says Fargo school board member Jim Johnson.

Johnson says 75% of what they spend their budget on is for personnel and each year their personnel costs increase. Valley News Live reporter Ashley Bishop asked Johnson what would happen if the Fargo school district adhered to the 70 mill state cap?

"We could not hire replacements when teachers retire, and that would lead to increase class size, were could cut extra curricular activities both scholastic and sports teams but that is not the wishes of the general public expressed to the board," Johnson explained.

Additionally Johnson says they would need to cut $18 million from their budget and believes they are not overspending.

"We look at each years budget and try to be efficient and effective with the dollars that we have," Johnson said. 

Although some citizens in the district are not happy with where the board has spent their money in the past, Johnson says it is what the community wants.

"It doesn't mean were over spending it means were addressing the needs identified by our community."

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