Voters say “no” to operating referendum, Bemidji School Board gains one new member

In the Bemidji School District, the top three finishers are incumbent Jeff Haack, gaining 9,758 votes, incumbent Ann Long Voelkner, gaining 9,449 votes, and Gabriel Warren, earning 8,212 votes.

Voters did not approve of the School District’s operating referendum, with 11,725 voting against, about 60 percent, and 7,851, about 40 percent, voted in favor.

Superintendent Tim Lutz issued a statement in response to Bemidji area voters rejecting the operating referendum.

Lutz says while he respects the decisions made by voters, the budget issues the district is facing remain unsolved.

The referendum would have revoked the district’s current $180 per pupil operating levy and replace it with a $460 per pupil levy, to avoid making cuts to programming and staff.

Lutz says the school board will be forced to look for ways to stabilize the 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,” said Lutz.

“We will keep community members informed about the school board’s next steps. We want to thank everyone who took part in this historic election and made their voice heard.”


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