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Albert Lea school referendum voted down

Updated 4 p.m. Nov. 5:

School district question vote totals:

Yes: 4,086 votes, 36.36%

No: 7,151 votes, 63.64%

 

Original story:

Freeborn County residents voted Tuesday to deny an Albert Lea Area Schools referendum that would have increased its operating levy from $573.74 per pupil to $714.67.

Out of the votes counted as of Tuesday night, 6,906 voters cast their ballot against the levy, while 3,994 voters cast in favor.

“I am disappointed to see the regional trend against supporting school districts in this pandemic environment,” said Albert Lea Area Schools Superintendent Mike Funk. “Albert Lea Area Schools will be coming back to the voters in 2021 to gain support for our district to avoid 3.5 million dollars in cuts that our district will face after our referendum expires in 2022.”

Newly elected school board members also voiced their opinions on the referendum not passing.

“The new school board members have got a job to do,” said likely new school board member Bruce Olson. “The operating referendum has to be passed so the district doesn’t go backward. Otherwise we’re in trouble.”

Angie Hoffman, a likely second new board member, said she will work with and listen to the community to hopefully come back and bring a better proposal next year.

The lone incumbent elected to the school board this year, Neal Skaar, said he is disappointed the referendum didn’t pass. He said the board has a year to convince the voters to change their mind on that because without the referendum, Skaar said the school district will have a problem on its hands.

“It’s very critical,” Skaar said. “Without that, it will be a huge problem for the district and the students will suffer because of it … Without that money, we’ll have to make substantial cuts. The obvious result of that will be less teachers, which means cutting of programs and bigger class sizes, among other things. It’s almost unthinkable how devastating that would be for our district.”

 

About Tyler Julson

Tyler Julson covers sports for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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