Voters listened and supported the majority of the issues before them in school districts across Minnesota earlier this month.
Those were all good choices.
Voters in the MACCRAY School District were voting for the fourth time on a major bond issue. This time the bond would help to create a central campus for the district in Clara City. The vote was 1,141 yes ballots to 873 no ballots on the $39.5 million bond issue. The decision calls for the district to build a new elementary school at the high school campus. It also includes building a 500-seat auditorium, developing a three-station gymnasium, and upgrading the kitchen and dining areas. The bond total also includes $2 million for decommissioning the elementary schools in Raymond and Maynard.
MACCRAY voters also supported continuing the $1,104.14-per-pupil operating levy by a 3-1 margin.
The BOLD School District voters approved a $635-per-pupil operating levy by a margin of 717 in favor to 658 against. The approval of the operating levy removes the prospect of about $600,000 in cuts if the levy failed. The district still faces a nearly $200,000 gap for the coming budget cycle.
The BOLD School Board still faces major facilities needs in the district that serves the communities of Bird Island, Lake Lillian and Olivia. The board considered but ultimately did not ask voters to decide the construction of a central campus facility.
The Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa School District's voters overwhelmingly approved the three questions on the ballot. It was an "exhilarating" moment for the district as its measure was approved by a nearly 70% margin.
The approval of all three measures allows the district to invest $20 million into facility improvement projects during the next two years. The district will also implement a new operating levy that will help generate $275,000 in annual revenue for the next decade.
The Lac qui Parle Valley School District voters also overwhelmingly approved a $39.9 million bond to upgrade the district's three schools.
The district will invest $13 million in the Madison-Marietta-Nassau Elementary School in Madison; $17 million at the Appleton-Milan Elementary in Appleton; and $6 million in the high school-middle school in rural Madison.
The Litchfield School District's voters approved two of three ballot questions. The voters approved a $625-per-pupil operating levy by a 59 percent margin. This measure provides $1 million a year for educational programs. The second measure approved was a $33 million bonding question to remodel and update the school's multiple facilities, including safety and security in all buildings and updating the industrial tech classrooms. The third measure for a new swimming pool, soccer field and fitness center failed.
The success of these various schools in west-central Minnesota followed a trend of voter support across Minnesota this election year.
In Worthington, voters approved providing more than $33 million to build a new middle school for an increased student population. This district's voters had rejected proposals for five straight years due to various reasons, including opposition to immigration growth within the district.
No one wants to pay more taxes. However, voters are gaining a better understanding that these bond and levy are a good way to invest in their local schools and students. This is especially true following the long-stagnant funding of education by the state Legislature.
It is also important that local school boards and administration work hard to provide credible information on the needs of their local district. This is an important factor in helping voters make sound and wise decisions on the future of their local schools.
The overall goal of each district should continue to be to provide a solid footing for the district to best serve the educational needs of students and families.
Congratulations to all the voters and the districts on their school levy and bonding success this year. Now, plan well to make these needed investments wisely.
This editorial is the opinion of the West Central Tribune's editorial board of publisher Steve Ammermann and editor Kelly Boldan.