Voters in Lake County approved one of two referendum questions on the ballot Tuesday for the Lake Superior School District.
The first question will invest $44.1 million for upgrades to William Kelley School in Silver Bay, Minnehaha Elementary School in Two Harbors and Two Harbors High School.
Superintendent Jay Belcastro said he was very excited to see over 60% of voters supporting the first referendum question.
“It feels really good to be supported that strongly by the community, especially for a district that has somewhat notoriously been recognized as a community that's difficult to pass referendums,” Belcastro said. “I just feel like there's a lot of synergy regarding schools and it's just great to feel the support.”
It took three tries for the district to get voter approval for the Two Harbors High School levy referendum, which is nearly paid off. The latest referendum will replace the Two Harbors High School levy referendum, making it tax-neutral.
Belcastro said he believes the community outreach and social media campaigns helped get the referendum passed the first time around.
The second referendum question would have given the district $7.3 million to upgrade athletic facilities at William Kelley and Two Harbors. It failed by 285 votes. Belcastro said even though the second question failed, he is walking away from Tuesday night feeling optimistic.
“We're not leaving Question 2 with a down mindset. We really feel good about it,” Belcastro said. “We're happy where the result is at and the fact that with some tweaks, maybe we could get that through as well.”
Belcastro said he has a meeting Thursday morning to discuss what’s next for both referendums. He said they might try for the athletics upgrades again next year, but it needs to be discussed.
Belcastro said he wants to thank everyone who voted.
“It's certainly great to feel that people still see education as a viable critical component to the community and I think that was justified (Tuesday) night with a vote,” he said.
Minnehaha and William Kelley will receive full renovations as well as additions. Minnehaha’s addition will include a new kitchen and cafeteria. The William Kelley addition will include a new school office, band room and choir room.
All three schools will receive security updates that will force all visitors to move through a secured area. At Minnehaha and William Kelley, those secured areas will be the school offices. At Two Harbors, the office will remain, but a security room will be added at Door 12 outside the media room.
This has been a major issue in all three schools, which have secured entrances with cameras. However, once visitors enter, they are not forced to go into an office, which is considered a security risk.
The referendum that passed also includes funds and plans to renovate the bus garages in Two Harbors and Silver Bay.