Levy Information

2018 Braham Area Schools ISD #314 Operating Referendum

 On Monday, June 18, 2018, the school board of Braham Area Public School District #314 made a decision to place a question on the November 6, 2018 general election ballot asking local voters to decide on an operating levy to support general school operations.  The decision was made after extensive discussion and deliberation following three years of significant reductions to staff and programs.  The school board wants the community to know they understand how important it is to be fiscally responsible and are proud of the fact that costs to educate a child in the Braham District are the lowest in the area.

The School Board and Superintendent have put this document together to help you better understand the issues facing our district.  We are honored to represent ISD #314 and feel it is in the best interest of our students that the community have an opportunity to express their voice regarding school funding.


Superintendent Ken Gagner

Public Meetings


Senior Social / 2:00 p.m. @ BEC


Rush Lake Improvement Assoc. / 8:30 a.m. @ Nessel Township Hall


Braham Fire Department / 6:15 p.m. @ Braham Fire Hall


Grasston Senior Dining / 11:00 a.m. @ Grasston Hope Lutheran


Elmhurst Commons @ 12:15 p.m.


Braham Senior Dining / 11:00 a.m. @ Park Manor


ISD #314 retired staff / 9:00 a.m. @ B100


Braham Area High School / 6:30 p.m. @ C100


Braham Area High School / 6:30 p.m. @ C100


Rush Point Leisure Club / 12:45 p.m. @ Nessel Township Hall

Quick Facts:

 About the District

  • Braham Elementary is a 2017 School of Excellence
  • HS is nationally ranked in US News and World Report
  • Test and graduation scores are above state average
  • Students have opportunities to earn college credits, participate in a variety of extra and co-curricular activities, and be part of a small school family that values and cares for each child
  • Current K-12 enrollment of approximately 720

About the Referendum

  • An operating referendum is a local voter levy (or tax) that helps support general operations
  • The levy would last ten years
  • Asking for $460 per student and is expected to generate $338,000 annually


  • Enrollment has declined over 20% in the last ten years
  • Fund Balance is dangerously low, hovering between 2% - 4% (auditor recommends 18-20%)
  • State funding has failed to keep up with inflation by almost $600 per pupil
  • MN average operating levy is $1,202 per pupil, current Braham levy is $724

Steps taken

  • Over $1,000,000 of expenses have been cut from the budget in the last three budget cycles
  • Student fees have increased in two of the last three budget cycles
  • If the operating referendum fails, additional budget cuts will be necessary

About the Tax Impact

  • Home or business with a tax value of $125,000 will see a monthly tax increase under $7
  • Farmers will pay only on their house, garage, and one acre of land
  • Seasonal recreational (cabins) are exempt from these taxes

About the Vote

  • Vote will take place on Tuesday, November 6, 2018 from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Early voting is allowed and will begin September 21, 2018


2018 Braham Area Schools ISD #314 Operating Levy

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an operating referendum (levy) and when/who would vote?

  • An operating levy is a local voter approved levy (or tax) that helps support general school operations including student programs and services.The length of this levy is expected to be for a period of ten years with funds available at the start of the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Eligible citizens 18 years and older who live in the Braham Area School District may participate in the election.The vote will occur during the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, although early voting is also allowed.Please see questions 12-14 for additional voter information.

Does the district use our taxpayer dollars wisely?‚Äč

  • Braham is an efficiently run district.This means the district spends less tax dollars per child than ANY of our neighbors (we compared ourselves to ten area schools).While a district can continue to cut costs, at a certain time you reach a tipping point where it is difficult to deliver the same level of services area students may receive.
  • Over 99% of Minnesota public schools have passed operating levies with the average being $1,202 per pupil unit.Braham’s current levies ($724.00) are $478.00 per student LESS than the state average.If the levy were to pass, Braham would still be slightly below average ($1,184) in the amount we collect for our students.

Why do we need an Operating Referendum?

  • To continue our pursuit of excellence:
    • In ‘17-’18 our Elem. was named a MESPA School of Excellence and our HS was recognized by U.S. News and World Report as a nationally ranked "Best High School"
    • 2017 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) scores were ABOVE the state average in proficiency and growth in reading/math and our four year graduation rate is 11% above state average
    • Students enjoy a small school setting with plenty of opportunity - over 70% of students in grades 7-12 participate in extracurricular programs such as super mileage, trap, theatre, etc. and 42% of students currently earn free college credits.
  • During the last ten years (‘07-’08 to ‘16-’17) enrollment has declined 190 students (21%).The district receives funds based on the number of students served.
  • The Fund Balance is dangerously low (hovering between 2-4%).This is below district policy and the state average of 18-20%.The balance barely allows the district to meet monthly expenses and leaves no room for unexpected expenses, i.e. major boiler repair.
  • State funding has failed to keep up with the rising inflationary costs schools have experienced.A recent Minnesota Department of Education review shows that an additional $600 per pupil increase to the basic formula would be needed to match 2003 funding levels.
  • ISD #314 is a property poor district (this means homeowners pay a greater portion of school taxes than property rich districts which are home to businesses such as Walmart, Medtronic, or Amazon).2017-2018 revenue rankings shows Braham in 297th place out of 331 school districts in Minnesota.

What about the Facilities Project bond passed in 2015?

  • The facilities project bond approved in May of 2015 was specifically targeted to improve both interior and exterior facilities.Funds from this project, by law, could ONLY be spent on the project itself, and none of the funds could be utilized to operate the district.

Why did the board choose to ask for a Facilities Bond in 2015 when we needed operating funds?

  • At the time of the board decision (2014) the district had a fund balance hovering near 12%.Although the fund balance had been dropping, it was not anticipated that enrollment would continue to decline at such a high rate.
  • The facilities project was discussed in the community for several years - at least since 1997 when the first of four bond votes was held. A community group (Braham Area Committee for Kids - BACK) was formed in 2001 to support the project which finally culminated when 66% of voters approved the bond in 2015.

What has the district done to reduce spending?

  • In the last three budget cycles the district has cut expenses by over one million dollars.Most of these reductions have been employees, however supplies and employee training have been reduced each of the years as well.Every single employee group (teachers, coaches, secretaries, administration, paras, custodial) has experienced reductions.In addition, the district has raised student fees in two of the three budget cycles.

How much will the operating levy cost me?

  • Owners of homes, businesses, and property in the Braham School District would pay:
    • Farmers pay on the value of their home and one acre
    • Businesses pay the same rates as homeowners
    • Seasonal Recreational (cabins) are NOT taxed 
  • Because Braham is a property poor district and due to the way the levy is being structured, the state will pay approximately 34% of the new levy.This is done to help ensure our students have the same opportunities as students in neighboring districts.
  • If you own a home or business with a tax value of $125,000, your monthly tax increase would be $6.75, or $81.00 per year.This amount will increase or decrease proportionally based on your assessed value.


How much money will the levy generate each year?

  • The levy asks for $460 per student and is expected to generate $338,338 per year.Of the $338,338 the state would contribute $114,351 and local taxpayers $223,987.

How would the money be spent?

  • The funds, by law, must be spent following Minnesota statutory guidelines:
    • Maintain current staffing levels
    • Provide for the safety and security of students and staff
    • Maintain current academic and extracurricular programs
    • Maintain/increase supply budgets and staff training
    • Maintain facilities - both indoor and outdoor
  1. Buildings are between 24-52 years old with rising maintenance costs
  2. Over $1.5 million in roofing needs alone are required the next 7 years
  • Potential to add staff, supplies, training, and/or programming if enrollment maintains 2017-2018 levels

What will happen if the operating referendum does not pass?

  • It would be very likely the district would need to make additional budget adjustments (reductions) for the 2019-2020 school year.Because staffing makes up nearly 80% of the operating budget, this would include additional reductions to staff.

Do these referendum dollars help the state of Minnesota?

  • No, these referendum dollars are all used at the local level to help the students in Braham.One advantage of the referendum passage is that your local tax dollars stay local.

When do I vote?

  • The vote will be held Tuesday, November 6, 2018, as part of the regular general election.Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Early voting is allowed (See below)

Where do I vote?

  • Your polling place is determined by your personal residence.You can go to the website shown below and type in your address to determine which of the following locations will be your polling place: City of Braham, Cambridge Township, Stanchfield Township, Maple Ridge Township in Isanti County; City ofGrasston, Grass Lake Township, Comfort Township in Kanabec County, Royalton Township and Pokegama Township in Pine County; and Nessel Township in Chisago County.
  • Click here to determine your polling location:
  • https://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us/

Can I still vote if I am not going to be in town on Nov. 6 or need to vote early?

  • Yes, absentee voting for the general election begins September 21, 2018.Voters may download an Absentee Ballot Application or fill out an electronic application on the Minnesota Secretary of State website (see below) or request one at your resident county or the school district office.
  • For more voting information, contact Nickie Nelson in the superintendent’s office at 320-396-5199 or nnelson@braham.k12.mn.us.
  • https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/other-ways-to-vote

How can I learn more about the levy?

  • Contact Braham Area Schools Superintendent Ken Gagner:
  • Dates and times will be posted on the school website, in local newspapers, flyers, and on the district’s Facebook page.
  • Contact a member of the Braham Area School Board:

Steven Eklund    320-396-2114
Mike Thompson      320-396-2306

Tony Cuda         612-201-5772
Allison Londgren    612-282-9715
Angie Flowers    320-396-0073
Darrin Davis         763-477-8414

Dan Klemz         763-670-0757

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