School levies: NLS question fails; one passes, one fails in Montevideo

Early results show two area school district operating levies had mixed results.

A voter walks into the polling location at New London City Hall Tuesday on Election Day in New London. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune

Two area public school districts had operating levies on the ballot Tuesday, with mixed results.

Preliminary results indicate that a ballot question in the New London-Spicer School District failed.

In the Montevideo School District, voters appear to have approved a question to renew an existing levy and turned back a second question for a new levy.

Tallies in Minnesota are not final until Nov. 10, the last day of absentee ballots being accepted if postmarked by Election Day.

New London-Spicer

In New London-Spicer, preliminary results indicate the levy question failed by a vote of 3,298 no votes to 2,519 yes votes, a margin of 56.7% to 43.3%.


The purpose of the levy was to deal with a budget deficit looming within the next two years. School officials said state aid has not kept pace with inflation and costs continue to rise.

The goal was to reduce looming budget cuts, build a fund balance for the future and increase the availability of technology for students and staff.

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Bill Adams, New London-Spicer Superintendent

The proposed levy offered a phased-in approach that would have increased the levy twice over its 10-year span, starting at $441.35 per pupil for three years, with increases to $882.70 per pupil for the next three years and to $1,176.90 per pupil in the last four years.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed the question was not approved,” NLS Superintendent Bill Adams said Wednesday morning.

The district’s next steps will be to try to understand why people voted against the question, he said.

Also, the board’s finance committee will meet Friday to begin discussions about reducing the budget.


“We hope to have a good game plan heading into the spring with what we’re going to do to reduce the budget,” he said. The committee will look at ways to increase revenue, too, he added.


Montevideo Superintendent Luther Heller said it was most important to the district to have the renewal of an existing $156.76-per-pupil levy approved. The 10-year renewal allows the district to continue funding its technology initiative which includes updated technology in classrooms and 1-to-1 devices for all students.

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Luther Heller

“Once you buy all the Chromebooks for all the students, as they wear out, you need to replace them,” he said. “We don’t have the money in the regular budget to replace those.”

The second question would have allowed the district to levy $303.24 per pupil for 10 years to provide additional opportunities for students, he said. It would have been used to expand career and technical education for middle school and high school students and provide enrichment programs for younger students, too.

The vote on the first question was 1,913 votes in favor and 1,741 votes against, a margin of 52.35% to 47.65%.

On the second question the vote was 2,318 votes against and 1,332 in favor, a margin of 63.51% to 36.49%.


“I think the real key is we’re extremely grateful that our voters did see the value of the technology initiative we have in place, and they agreed to continue to fund that,” he said.

The technology initiative allowed for a smoother transition to distance learning and hybrid learning during the pandemic, he said.

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: or phone 320-214-4340
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