Voters decide school operating levy requests
BY JANNA GOERDT NEWS TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER Voters seemed to come through with at least one school operating levy request in Northeastern Minnesota Tuesday. "It's looking pretty good for the Ely referendum," said Superintendent Tom Bruels. With all...
BY JANNA GOERDT
NEWS TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
Voters seemed to come through with at least one school operating levy request in Northeastern Minnesota Tuesday.
"It's looking pretty good for the Ely referendum," said Superintendent Tom Bruels. With all but one precinct reporting late Tuesday night, it appeared that voters had narrowly approved the referendum. The remaining pre-cinct was for an unorganized township that submitted mail-in ballots.
Ely voters were deciding a $900 per-pupil levy after nar-rowly defeating a $400 per-pupil levy in 2005.
The school has been hit hard by declining enrollment, Bruels said. In the past dec-ade, enrollment has dropped by about 300 students.
Bruels thought the vote would be close, especially after the 2005 levy failed by just 90 votes.
"The campaign the city ran did an excellent job," Bruels said. "It gave me a feeling of optimism."
The Wrenshall School Dis-trict also narrowly voted down an operating levy in 2005, so the school district asked again this year. On Tuesday, voters were deciding on a three-year, $450 per-pupil levy. The district had dipped into its reserve fund and cut programming and technology upgrades to balance the books this year, said Superintendent Shawn Northey.
As of 10 p.m., the Wrenshall referendum was still undecided with only one of seven precincts reporting.
"One way or another, we will keep on trudging through, doing what we have to do to make ends meet," Northey said.
In the Lake Superior School District, which has schools in Lake and St. Louis counties, voters were decid-ing on a $950 per-pupil levy that would raise about $1.8 million a year for 10 years.
"It's too close to call," said Clerk of the Board Cyndi Ryder. In the days leading up to the election, "I was hearing just as much good as nega-tive" about the levy. Early results didn't look positive for the district.
The early reporting precincts were from outlying areas, where people don't even send their children to Lake Superior District schools, Ryder said.
The sprawling St. Louis County School District, which spreads across 4,200 square miles and seven schools, has lost students both to declining enrollment and open enrollment. Some students simply live closer to schools outside the district, said Superinten-dent Charles Rick. Voters cast ballots on a 10-year, $500 per-pupil operating levy, though Rick said an official tally wouldn't be available until this morning.
Voters in the Maple School District in Northwestern Wisconsin gave an early boost toward approving a $33 mil-lion school bond issue, ac-cording to the Douglas County Clerk's Web site. The bond would help replace and renovate aging buildings.