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Photo credit: Joan Loesch

The League of Women Voters of Dakota County is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences policy through education and advocacy. We meet monthly and also host candidate forums, issue forums, and other events of interest to the community. Please attend one of our meetings or contact us for more information!


ISD 197 residents are hearing competing claims about the district and its bond referendum which will be held May 8. We encourage you to research the facts for yourself, many of which can be found via the district's website, the MN Department of Education's Report Card, and Superintendent Peter Olson-Skog's blog. There are a least a few broad categories of information voters may want to consider.

Academic Performance​

Although the bond referendum is for repairs and improvements to facilities as well as construction of some new facilities, one point of contention has been student test scores. District-wide, as measured by statewide standardized tests, from 2014-2017 math proficiency increased 7.4% and reading proficiency increased 0.3%, and from 2013-2017 science proficiency decreased 0.4%. District-wide, in 2017, ISD 197 students scored higher than the state average in math (59.3% vs. 58.7%), reading (61.1% vs. 60.2%), and science (59.9% vs. 54.2%). From 2013-2017, at Henry Sibley H.S., math proficiency decreased by 5.4%, reading proficiency decreased by 0.8%, and science proficiency decreased by 1.1%. However, in 2017, Henry Sibley H.S. students scored higher than the state average in each category, including math (50.9% vs. 48.4%), reading (61.8% vs. 60.5%), and science (73.2% vs. 56.3%). Olson-Skog's blog also shows how Henry Sibley H.S. compares to several other area high schools in each of these categories:

Tax Burden​ of ISD 197 Residents

ISD 197 residents pay less in property taxes for their schools than do residents in many nearby school districts. The owner of a home with an assessed value of $200,000 pays $742 in ISD 197 while the owner of a home with the same assessed value would pay $799 in ISD 199, $969 in ISD 196, and $1,104 in ISD 194. ISD 197 is seeking approval of the issuance of $117 million in bonds, which would result in a property tax increase of approximately $87 per year for the owner of a home with a assessed value of $237,200, which is the median valuation within the district.

What the Bonds Will Fund

ISD 197 has published a long list of what will be funded by the bonds, if approved by voters, broken down by school. They also have a breakdown of each category of expenditures for each school. Over $27 million of the expenditures will be for deferred maintenance throughout the district. Additionally, the district has produced a 2-page fact sheet, a 22-page presentation listing the major projects to be completed at each school, a FAQ, detailed building floor plans for each school showing the proposed projects and multiple videos. Voters can direct questions to the district's referendum hotline at 651-403-7557 or email the district at

You can find more information about voting early or on election day, including a sample ballot, on our Voter Resources page. We strongly encourage all eligible voters within ISD 197 to make your voice heard by voting on or before May 8!

Updated: Jun 16, 2019

The featured topic for our May meeting was “The Impact of Political Polarization on Voter Engagement” with University of Minnesota Political Science Professor Howard Lavine. Other agenda items included:

  • Advocacy/Program plan for 2018

  • Candidate forum plans for 2018

  • Voter registration activities

  • Observer Corps

A screening of the documentary “Sold Out: Affordable Housing at Risk,” produced by Twin Cities PBS, will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 7, at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, 12650 Johnny Cake Ridge Rd, Apple Valley, MN 55124. A panel of professionals and community discussion will follow the film.

As changes are occurring in the metro area’s rental market, preserving the current unsubsidized affordable housing is critical. This program will raise awareness to the shrinking supply of affordable rental housing, the trend to upscale properties with higher rents that displace households of modest income, and will look at solutions. The event is co-sponsored by MICAH, CATCH and Heading Home Dakota. All are welcome. See this news article for more information.

News and Events

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