Bemidji rejects operating referendum

Voters in the Bemidji Area School District said “no” to the district’s operating referendum ask.

The results, according to Beltrami County Auditor JoDee Treat, were 3,432 in favor and 3,749 against.

The district asked to replace the existing $180 per pupil operating referendum with a $460 per pupil referendum, which would have expired in 10 years.

The district made a similar ask last November which was also rejected by voters.

There were 24,922 registered voters within the district when the polls closed Tuesday, with 7,183 turning out for the special election.

Of registered voters, that’s a turnout of about 28 percent.

Of the 1,345 absentee ballots submitted, 1,027 voted in favor of the referendum.

“We respect the decision made by school district voters,” commented Superintendent Tim Lutz, “but, this means that our budget issues remain unresolved. The school board will again be forced to look for ways to stabilize our budget through cuts to programs, staff and student services.”

“Now that our communities have given us clear direction on our financial situation, we will need to move ahead with stabilizing our budget through continued prudent spending, making additional budgetary cuts, and working with state lawmakers to fully fund public education in Minnesota,” said Lutz.

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