The Big Story Blog

School levy votes in a tough economy

Posted at 6:20 AM on November 9, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Education, Politics, Taxes

UPDATE: Voters approve 70% of all school referenda

UPDATE: Duluth rejects taxes for schools, approves parks and libraries funding

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MPR Photo / Jeffrey Thompson

Last week, we asked aloud if school levies would make the grade this year. Election Day results late last night showed a mixed bag of success and failure across the state.

More than 120 districts sought voter help and it looked like levies passed in at least half those districts, including many in the Twin Cities metro.

In the state's largest district, Anoka-Hennepin, voters overwhelmingly said yes to renewing a levy providing about $48 million a year in operating money for 10 years.

Voters there also backed a levy for school technology spending but rejected a third question intended to raise money to prevent future teacher layoffs if state funding fell short.

Despite batting .667 on the night, Anoka-Hennepin officials conceded:

Passage of the levy questions does not eliminate the district's financial challenges, however. Even with passage of the levy renewal, the district still faces an estimated $12 million budget deficit resulting from lack of a state funding increase to offset inflation and loss of revenue because of declining enrollment.

In other districts, the results were grim for levy backers. By midnight last night, the tally kept by the Minnesota School Boards Association showed smaller systems like Perham-Dent, Madelia, Sleepy Eye will be trying to figure out today where to make more cuts.

We'll be writing all day about school levies. Drop us a line and tell us how you and your district voted and what made the difference.


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.