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Helmut Schmidt, Published November 03 2010

UPDATED: Moorhead voters approve school district levy

With all of Moorhead School District’s precincts reporting, voters had ap-proved an $850 per student operating levy.

Raw results had 53.5 per-cent of those going to the polls voting for the levy, while 46.5 percent voted against it.

The results include full unofficial vote totals for all 27 precincts. The raw re-sults had 6,950 ballots cast for the levy and 6,045 cast against it.

“A very wonderful day for the Moorhead School District and the kids of Moorhead,” said Corey Elmer, co-chairman of the Vote Yes Committee.

“A very exciting night. The voters of Moorhead really affirmed their com-mitment to great schools. And if you are a family with kids, you want to be in Moorhead,” Elmer said.

“It’s pretty exciting for our community,” said Superintendent Lynne Kovash.

“I am so thankful to the community and our com-mittee parents, students and staff who worked to pass this,” she said. “

Kovash said she wanted the dialogue with the community to continue.

“We want to show we are accountable and using the money wisely,” she said.

The outcome was a dra-matic turnaround from 2009, when an identical levy failed with just over 50 percent of those casting ballots voting against it.

“It looks like we’ve im-proved in the northern and the central part a good five to eight percent, and im-proved in the southern part as well,” Elmer said.

Election judges at several sites around the city said turnout was strong for a non-presidential election.

The levy is designed to bring in $5.2 million annu-ally over seven years.

District officials had cau-tioned that next year’s budget would have seen a $2 million deficit without the levy, with the gap growing in future years.

The School District plans to use the levy to avoid budget cuts or deficit spending. The rest of the money will be used to re-duce class sizes at the mid-dle and high school level, expand language offerings, repair technology, and make early childhood programs more affordable.

Assistant Superinten-dent Wayne Kazmierczak said that if the levy had failed, layoffs would have been considered. Other possibilities were switch-ing to a four-day week, or expanding the distance for providing bus rides to school from one up to two miles, he said.

The levy will raise prop-erty taxes on a $100,000 home about $179 a year. On a $200,000 home, the taxes would go up $358 a year. Taxes on a $300,000 home would go up about $537, the district estimates.

The measure needed a simple majority of those voting to pass: 50 percent plus one vote.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583