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Levy referendum passes at USC

By Staff | Nov 8, 2010

Christie Wetzel

Residents of United South Central School District gave a thumbs up to an excess operating tax levy referendum Tuesday night.

By a 1,469 to 1,201 margin, voters approved replacing an existing levy of $1,000 per pupil with a higher one of $1,200 per pupil.

In Faribault County, 1,271 voted in favor of the new levy and 931 against.

Freeborn County totals show 267 “no” votes and 188 voting “yes.”

Of the eight votes in Waseca County, five supported the higher levy.

Superintendent Jerry Jensen calls passage of the referendum a great accomplishment because it appeared on a ballot with other major statewide races.

“It demonstrates our commitment to children and learning when you can pass a referendum in economic conditions like this,” he says. “I think it really says something.”

Board chair Christie Wetzel says communities in the district have historically supported levies, however, there was no guarantee the measure would pass this time.

Statewide, only half of the school districts seeking passage of a levy referendum were successful.

Wetzel credits the hard work of the “Vote Yes” Committee and Jensen to educate voters before going to the polls.“It’s nice to have a cohesive group with the same vision for education as the board,” she says. “Again, residents in the district decided to support quality education and to continue that commitment.”

Sharon Parriott, chairperson of the “Vote Yes” Committee, says the referendum received broad support from communities throughout the district.

“For the most part people want to make sure we are going to cut any programs and perhaps add some new ones,” she says.

Parriott was a double-winner election night, being among the top three vote-getters from a field of five candidates running for three School Board seats.

Finishing with the most votes was Jon Feist with 1,535; garnering 1,316 in Faribault County, 215 in Freeborn County and four in Waseca County.

Parriott was next with 1,317 votes in Faribault County, 211 in Freeborn County and four in Waseca for a total of 1,532.

Incumbent Kari L. Jacobson collected 1,225 votes in Faribault County, 220 and three votes in Freeborn and Waseca counties respectively for a total of 1,448.

Nancy Ulrich’s totals were 1,362 in Faribault County, 212 in Freeborn County and six in Waseca County. Chris Olson received 805, 179 and two votes respectively in Faribault, Freeborn and Waseca counties for a total of 986.

Those elected will serve a four-year term.

The new levy will last for 10 years and replaces one that was set to expire in two years.

The increase of $200 is expected to generate an additional $198,000 annually. Of that amount, the state would contribute about 10 percent.