Updated: School Levy Referendums Fail Across Lakeland Viewing Area
Updated 5:50 p.m. Wednesday with results for the Clearbrook-Gonvick school district referendum.
On Election Day, voters across northern and central Minnesota declined to support levy referendums for local school districts.
A majority of those living in the Crosby-Ironton, Pequot Lakes, Deer River, Grand Rapids, and Wadena-Deer Creek school districts voted against operating and capital project levies, in some cases by large amounts:
Crosby-Ironton School District (ISD 182)
Crosby-Ironton’s referendum would have allowed the district to levy $975 more per pupil, which district officials say would have helped with a $718,000 budget deficit. The district says it has made $1.5 million worth of cuts in recent years.
But by a narrow margin, voters did not approve the levy increase. 955 people (50.93% of voters) said “no” to the question while 920 people (49.07%) opted for “yes,” a difference of only 35 votes.
Pequot Lakes Public Schools (ISD 186)
In the Pequot Lakes school district, there were two school-related questions for voters. One was for a 10-year $500,000 capital projects levy for technology, buses, and other district vehicles. The other question was a $76.5 million bond referendum to improve school buildings and facilities. Question Two could only pass if Question One did.
Both questions did not receive enough support from voters. On Question One, 1,070 (53.63%) said “no” while 925 (46.37%) said “yes.” Fewer people approved Question Two – only 1,183 residents, or 40.49% of voters, said “yes,” with 805 (59.51%) picking “no.”
Deer River Public Schools (ISD 317)
A question posed to voters in the Deer River school district on Tuesday concerned school building bonds. Residents were asked to decide if the district was authorized to issue bonds in an amount not to exceed a little over $24 million for upgrades, renovations, and improvements to their facilities, which would have been financed through a property tax increase.
The referendum failed by a margin of 731 to 247, with 74.74% voting against the measure.
Grand Rapids School District (ISD 318)
Residents in the Grand Rapids School District were given three questions on their ballots, with Questions Two and Three being contingent on the passage of the question before it. Question One asked for a $1,100 per pupil operating levy that would provide the district with an additional $4.6 million each year. Question Two was for a $2.5 million annual capital projects levy for technology, and Question Three concerned a $300 per pupil operating levy that would provide the district with an additional $1.2 million each year.
According to unofficial results, none of the questions, which would have increased property taxes over a seven-year period, were approved at the polls. Question One failed with 5,804 residents (74.97%) saying “no” against 1,938 (25.03%) voting “yes.” For Question Two, 5,970 voters (77.47%) said “no” while 1,736 (22.53%) said “yes,” and for Question Three, even more disapproved – 6,044 people (78.47%) picked “no” against 1,658 voters (21.53%) deciding on “yes.”
Had the referendum questions been approved, school district officials say the funds would have gone to improving educational opportunities for students and to stabilize the district’s finances.
Wadena-Deer Creek (ISD 2155)
In a landslide, two questions for residents in the Wadena-Deer Creek district – one on a levy increase and the other on school building bonds – failed to pass. Question One asked for a levy increase of $790 per pupil that would have been in effect for 10 years. Question Two asked voters if the district would be authorized to issue general obligation building bonds for an amount not to exceed nearly $18 million. Proposed improvements would have included construction of a career and technical education addition, parking lot improvements, bathroom remodeling, outdoor athletics and fitness improvements, playground improvements, and more.
For Question One, 1,690 people (79.45%) voted against a levy increase, with only 437 (20.55%) in support of one. Question Two failed by a margin of 1,747 voters to 380 (82.13% to 17.87%).
Clearbrook-Gonvick (ISD 2155)
A referendum for school building bonds for the Clearbrook Gonvick school district was denied by voters. 54.97% of voters (315 people) said “no” to school building bonds that would have gone to the construction of a new gym, updates to the current gym and fitness room, media center classroom remodeling, a new roof and exterior doors, and other upgrades. 45.03% (258) supported the referendum.