How to Pass a Local Levy

Media coverage of Minnesota school levies.

Are you going out for a local levy this year?  Does your citizen action group have a Web site? E-mail to network and share information with other Parents United parents!


There are two parts to school levy campaigns: the District Informational Campaign and the Citizen Promotional Campaign. Minnesota law does not allow local school boards or superintendents to use their official positions to advocate for school levies. Consequently, Minnesota school levy campaigns are typically run by citizen groups.

District Informational Campaign

The goal is an informed citizenry.

  • Districts must provide information about the campaign in a neutral manner.
  • District funds cannot be used to promote the election’s outcome.
  • Districts may use funds for a neutral informational campaign.

Citizen Promotional Campaign (the vote-yes group)

The goal is to pass the referendum.

  • The promotional campaign operates independently of the school district.
  • The individuals who work on the promotional campaign have a great deal of latitude in their promotional work.
  • The promotional campaign raises and spends private funds.

The two entities can work together to coordinate efforts.

From the Archives

Will last year’s change in the Homestead Market Value Credit make things confusing in your district? Check this two-page summary (PDF) prepared by the Minnesota Department of Revenue. (More information on the Homestead Market Value Credit.)

Declining State Support for Minnesota Schools – Legislation proposed in the 2012 session (HF1858) would prohibit local school boards from asking voters to support local school levies in even-numbered years despite documentation showing declining state support for our schools.

Tuesday is do-or-die time for area school levies – The push in the remaining days will be to make sure those who say they support the tax make it to their polling place to cast a ballot, St. Cloud Times, November 5, 2011.

Operating Referendum History: 1991-2011 – Summarizes operating referendum results from 1991 through 2010. Compares the portion voting Yes to the ratio of total votes cast to districts’ average daily membership (ADM) in the year when a referendum is held; allows the user to highlight any designated district, Minnesota Department of Education.

Referendum Phaseout Details Through Calendar Year 2011 Elections – Includes projected gross referendum authorities for FY 2008 to FY 2023 given the CPI projections being used as of November 16, 2011.

Sometimes you’ll hear “referendum” and “levy” used almost interchangeably.

Referendum is the vote-taking, the action of asking the voters whether they approve raising the “levy.”

Levy is an assessment paid through local property taxes.

Levy Workshop Information from Schools for Equity in Education.