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School districts pass referendums

Both USC and BEA vote yes

By Kevin Mertens - Staff Writer | Nov 8, 2020

Both public school systems in Faribault County passed operating levy referendums in voting which took place on Nov. 3.

The voters in the Blue Earth Area School District approved a $700 per pupil operating levy to help address the district’s financial challenges and support its educational programming.

The measure passed with 2,308 yes votes while 1,905 votes were cast against the levy.

“We are grateful to all residents who participated in this historic election and chose to invest in our schools,” superintendent Mandy Fletcher said. “Our ongoing mission is to provide a strong education to every student and this investment will help the district to provide a quality education that each and every child deserves.”

Last November, residents of the district failed to pass an operating levy increase of $900 per pupil and the School Board was forced to cut close to $1 million from the district’s budget last spring.

Following the cuts, the board made the decision to once again seek an operating levy in order to better fund programs and services for students.

The new operating levy is one step in a comprehensive plan to address the district’s budget challenges. Other steps include continued strong budget controls, working with state lawmakers to fully fund public education in Minnesota and retaining and attracting students to the district, according to Fletcher.

“The School Board will direct funding toward educational quality and its operating budget,” Fletcher said. “With the additional funding, the district will be able to invest in robust educational programming for students. Further, important purchases will be made that have been delayed, including new, safer and more efficient buses and classroom technology.”

Fletcher spoke on what lies ahead for the district.

“Now that we have a decision on the operating levy increase, the district can look to the future and the programming possibilities for our students,” said Fletcher. “Thank you again for your support of our schools and students.”

Over on east side of the county, voters in the United South Central School District voted to renew an existing operating levy which was originally passed 10 years ago.

“It was renewed at the current rate which was $1,180.49 per pupil,” USC superintendent Keith Fleming said. “The only increase was due to an inflationary factor.”

The measure prevailed 1,589 to 1,332 and will be in place for another 10 years.

“We were very pleased with the result and very thankful for the support of the USC community,” Fleming added. “These additional dollars allow the district to be funded sufficiently to keep the programs in place for our students and to operate with a balanced budget.”