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Voters choose school referendums

Voters in three west central Minnesota school districts chose higher taxes over the possibility of school staff and program cuts. Operating levies to fund financially struggling school districts in Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, Frazee-Vergas and Norma...

Graphic: district referendum

Voters in three west central Minnesota school districts chose higher taxes over the possibility of school staff and program cuts.

Operating levies to fund financially struggling school districts in Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, Frazee-Vergas and Norman County East passed Tuesday in all three communities, according to complete but unofficial results.

In Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, 52 percent of 1,399 voters approved a proposed $500 per-pupil tax increase over six years, which will cost owners of $100,000 homes about $96 a year. The levy is expected to generate about $700,000 in its first year, including 62 percent in matching state aid.

"We're just thankful," Superintendent Bernie Lipp said, adding the 1,310-student district faced the prospect of scaling back programs and services and cutting staff. "We knew it was going to be a close vote, and we respect the people who didn't want to pay any more property taxes."

In Frazee-Vergas, 61 percent of 2,606 voters endorsed a $1,000 per-pupil tax increase over five years, expected to generate $1 million a year. An owner of a $100,000 home will now spend roughly $111 in extra taxes annually. Superintendent Deron Stender said the district planned to cut 17 positions and a range of extracurricular activities if voters shot down the levy proposal, as they have four times since 2000.

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"When people are faced with a crisis, they'll either continue to push themselves deeper into crisis, or they'll pull out of it," Stender said. "People realized we have a bad situation, and they weren't going to tolerate it."

In the Norman County East district, 872 voters went to the polls, with 77 percent approving $1,550 per-pupil levy over 10 years.

The levy, which would generate about $492,500, will cost the owner of a $75,000 home about $110 annually. School officials said the success of the proposal would spare the 366-student district deep budget cuts and possible consolidation with schools in neighboring districts.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mila Koumpilova at (701) 241-5529 Voters choose school referendums Mila Koumpilova 20071107

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