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ELECTION: VOTERS APPROVE NEW 10-YEAR LEVY

With a record turnout for a single-question, school district-only ballot, voters approved an increase in the district's so-called operations levy by $195 per pupil, or about $1.2 million per year. With a record turnout for a single question ballot, scho

St. Michael-Albertville School District residents have approved an increase school funding, but it wasn't easy. 

With a record turnout for a single question ballot, school district-only vote, voters approved an increase in the district's so-called operations levy by $195 per pupil, or about $1.2 million per year. 

The new levy, or "yes" vote, received 53 percent of the ballot, or 2,099 votes. The "no" vote received 47 percent, or 1,828 votes. There were 3,927 ballots cast in the election.

The results, released by the school district Tuesday night are considered unofficial until the St. Michael-Albertville School Board meets Monday evening to canvass the election. That meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. in the board room. 

"We're very excited," said Superintendent Dr. Jim Behle Tuesday night. "Just very pleased to get the support." 

Lines at both St. Michael-Albertville Middle School West and Middle School East were very steady the entire day. The line at East exploded as people arrived home from work, with a line out of the gymnasium door for a short time after 5 p.m.

But by 7:30 p.m., Middle School West was mostly cleared. 

Workers spent the last two hours reconciling the tapes from ballot machines and counting the absentee ballots. Suzanne Gallagher, an administrative assistant with the district, estimated about 100 absentee ballots were cast. 

The breakdown for how these new funds would be used, according to the district: 

• $500,000 per year to make up for lost federal funding, which will take effect next year

• $300,000 to maintain current technology offerings and keep it up to date

• $300,000 to $400,000 to cover inflationary costs like utility and transportation costs as well as to perform maintenance and repairs on school buildings.

The guidelines were determined by a levy committee made up of board members, staff, teachers, parents and general community members. The committee suggested this levy amount because of its prudency, sticking to the bare bones needed to keep the district functioning as-is.

Ann November 09, 2011 at 07:49 PM
I have volunteered for a number of years in my children's classrooms and I agree with you.
Brenda Stepp November 09, 2011 at 08:28 PM
We have great schools and teachers - and that will continue. Yeah!
Marissa Partridge November 09, 2011 at 08:30 PM
I am so pleased this levy passed! This means that our children will continue to get the great education they deserve. I agree with STMA Mom we have wonderful schools out here because most people realize the value of funding education.
Bob November 09, 2011 at 08:32 PM
I give up! Upside down on my mortgage, can not afford another increase in my mortgage payment, just going to do like most of my neighbors and walk away from the house. Let the rest of the people that voted to increase pay my portion
New Idea November 09, 2011 at 08:49 PM
It costs $10,000 per student to educate a child for one year in Minnesota using government schools. So, let's think about maybe giving parents that $10,000 as a refundable income/property tax credit and let each parent be responsible for educating his own child. It may then come to pass that a few dozen families come together-- let's say that between them they have 100 children-- enough for roughly 5 classrooms. Let say they then rent some top notch space and lease some top notch equiptment at a cost of $250,000 per year ($50k per year per classroom. Then lets say they pay each teacher $150,000 per year (Salary and benefits). Any takers?
JO November 09, 2011 at 08:49 PM
When you look at a teachers salary already. They get paid next to nothing for the work they do and the supplies they need to buy out of pocket for their classrooms. I'm glad it passed and the teachers get the money they need to help out. I also have been a pay freeze at my current job but that is life right now. My son has special needs and attends the schools in St. Michael. The school district is amazing to work with and they need our continuing support to do the work they do. I don't know if we would of made it if we didn't have the programs we currently have and the support of the teachers and adminstration. This is our future were investing in and need to keep investing.
JP November 09, 2011 at 08:55 PM
Its kinda funny how a lot of the people who voted NO don't have children in the school system anymore. Why would they want to pay more when they are not going to reap the benefits? I bet when their kids were in school and looking at large class sizes and programs getting cut, they were voting YES! Actually "St. Michael Old Timers" just admitted that. Funny..... I am glad that it passed. I have 2 children currently in STMA schools and one more will be going in a few years. Maybe when they are done, in 20 years, I will be voting no on these issues? But until then I am glad we have such a great school system and only hope it gets better! People always complain about the schools calling and sending letters when they are looking for more money. I will say that it gets annoying and probably costs money. However I never once got a call or letter opposing the levy! If you really didn't want this to pass, where were you? I never even saw a lawn sign that said vote NO. It passed, now we have to move on. Just be glad that this tax money is staying in our community and making it stronger!
Married Mom of 2 November 09, 2011 at 09:01 PM
I couldn't agree more!
Mike Schoemer (Editor) November 09, 2011 at 09:16 PM
A six percent margin would not demand a recount, no.
Married Mom of 2 November 09, 2011 at 09:17 PM
Nicely stated JP.
Mike Schoemer (Editor) November 09, 2011 at 09:32 PM
Gang - hopping in just to clarify something. The INVEST in EXCELLENCE committee paid for the signs, mailings, etc. The school district did send mailings to inform WHY they were asking for the levy, which they can do. They CANNOT rent signs, create lawn signs, etc. under Minnesota campaign laws.
Bob November 09, 2011 at 09:39 PM
I too have a child in this school district and voted NO! Must be nice to have a swimming pool, a workout gym and indoor track that puts Lifetime or LA Fitness to shame, ball fields large enough to play college ball if not pro ball. All while the new High School sits half empty, what a great investment that was! One of the main reasons I moved to this town 20 years ago were the taxes were low, and the school district was in great shape, now taxes have more than doubled, and the school board has no idea what they are doing. It is a shame that I am paying more taxes than a friend with the same size house is paying in Maple Grove. Another thing to ask, what is happening to the influx of $650,000,000 that was given to all the schools ON TOP of what they normally receive(according to Fox 9 news). Just add my home to the 5 homes on my street already in foreclosure!
STMA mom November 09, 2011 at 09:41 PM
My parents are in their 60's and continue to vote "yes" to educational levys in the Osseo district where I grew up and I will as well-even when my kiddos are grown. Some people place a high emphasis on education and some do not.
STMA mom November 09, 2011 at 09:47 PM
@ Mom2s-I wasn't meaning to be condiscending to anyone. It just seems to me that instead of cutting education people could look at cutting cable, cell phones....the list goes on and on. It's just a matter of priorities...
Aimee Libby November 09, 2011 at 09:48 PM
I keep seeing all these comments (in this post and several of the other ones here on the Patch) about all the money the school district paid for the signs, flyers, etc. Just for the record, all the signs and Invest in Excellence flyers/materials were NOT paid for by the district. This was a group of community members who wanted to get accurate information in the hands of each voter so an informed decision could be made. All materials/signage/etc. was paid for by donations. We did not receive a DIME from the school district. I'm a small business owner who realizes the importance of strong schools to both the community and my own kids, and therefore I decided to donate time & services to this effort. It's interesting to me that so many people can spend hours on here complaining, yet no one stepped forward to provide information "setting the record straight" on the so-called "propoganda" that was in the "kool-aid". Time to move on, folks.
STMAMOM November 09, 2011 at 09:52 PM
Great news for STMA schools! I work in a district where we have not been able to pass a levy and we are feeling the crunch. 5 years ago I had classes of 26-28 students and today I have classes of 36-40 students. Both students and teachers are paying the price in this situation. I do not think we want this to happen in our community!
KLS November 09, 2011 at 10:07 PM
Just want to comment that I don't think the schools are sitting half empty or at half capacity. The schools were built because of the population growth, which the city allowed to happen.
A Local Resident November 09, 2011 at 10:10 PM
I voted YES and I am glad that it passed. I am a hardcore fiscal conservative and have been one for years and I am not open to handing out extra money to any Government agency, especially schools (mostly out of irritation at teachers unions, but that is a different topic). When I heard that they wanted more of my money for a levy, I decided to educate myself. The school district and state government sites have quite a bit of fiscal information available for the public if one chooses to search it out. Based on STMA vs. state averages and other nearby communities, what was already done to reduce spending, the current stretching of public dollars, the districts history in borrowing money (none) and other reasons, I felt that they did put forth a reasonable request for additional money and they were not "over the top" in the amount. Also, some of the comments above....if your are underwater on your home, that is based on decisions that you had made and if you purchased a home that was over-valued during the housing boom then you need to do what is necessary for you. Why make the students and the community pay for your poor decision...and as far as the new school topics..."Bonds are for building", "Levies are for learning"...STMA is still towards the top compared to other school districts that are still "bleeding money" and are still asking for more.
Genuinely Curious November 09, 2011 at 10:41 PM
The amount of misinformation and misunderstanding is staggering. There are very few Mac computers in the district, and those that are in the district are for the IT/Art/Engineering classes, as they perform much better than their Windows companions and run the programs better. These are the systems that the students will be using in their future educational endevors and careers. Better to learn now. iPads? If there are iPads in the district its for special needs students...you imply that all students have iPads...quite far from the truth. And, you talk about education like it's a some kind of negative handout. Unbelievable. Are you implying that we should charge students and families for a public education? Seriously? Yikes. With all that said...the levy passed. There was plenty of factual information out there for anyone that wanted to take a moment to educate themselves. Deal with it. The people have spoken, and it is time to quit belly-aching and move on with your life.
Genuinely Curious November 09, 2011 at 10:49 PM
Kudos to you for taking the time to educate yourself and make an informed decision, rather than one based on heaven knows what. Remember, ladies and gentlemen, this is a public institution. Board meetings are open to the public. You vote for the board members as well. Additionally, all of the district financial info is available - much of it online. Whatever isn't you can easily obtain by going into the district office or you can have them mail it to you. Oh, and this nonsense about dirty tricks in an "off year"...uhm, what is illegal, nefarious, or shady about having an election on the same day that elections have taken place since the founding of our Republic? Don't give me that line about how turnout is low in off years...so? Whose fault is that? It's not any harder to vote in an off year than it is in any other year. And about not being able to find the polling place? You're online complaining, you could have easily been online looking up the information. The lame excuses need to stop. If you want to oppose the levy on the merits, go ahead...but don't complain that "it wasn't fair." Sheehs.
Genuinely Curious November 09, 2011 at 10:51 PM
Bob - your taxes may be higher, but I promise you that your schools are better. You pay for what you get. If you have solutions I would ask you to exercise your civic duty and run for school board. Surely if you have the right solutions, you'll have the support of the community.
No November 09, 2011 at 10:59 PM
You guys are all nuts. Bottom line if youve got kids in school you should pay nobobody else should.
christy November 09, 2011 at 11:07 PM
So agree - Let's remember that our children are the ones who will be working and earning social security for those retired that will be collecting it, our children will probably never get to see the $ in social security when they retire. Also I have to give these teachers props for the amount of their OWN $$ they spend on our children because they care
STMA mom November 09, 2011 at 11:19 PM
Agreed. To St. Michael old-timer-I am probably one of the cheapest people you will ever meet. To assume I "blindly spend money" is untrue. I don't drive a fancy car, am not underwater on my mortgage, and have no credit card debt. I DID attend the town meeting Q and A regarding the levy and got the facts. I am assuming you were not one of the 6 people in the room that night. We are going to have to agree to disagree on this one. At least for now, our great schools have a chance to remain great.
STMA mom November 09, 2011 at 11:25 PM
Nicely stated Genuinely Curious.
christy November 09, 2011 at 11:39 PM
I wonder if you would feel this same way when OUR children are the ones who will be taking care of you or a loved one when you may be fighting for your life in the hospital. These children are OUR future and deserve a proper education !!!
Al Anderson November 10, 2011 at 12:19 AM
The Invest in Excellence Comittee may have indeed received donations for the signs that were done. But that committee was hand-picked (IE people were chosen who would aggressively advocate for levy increases) by a select group (Ziegler, Behle and maybe a couple of board members). This was no independent group doing objective work. The School District did use extensive resources to create their one-sided Knight VIew mailing, inaccurate chart information, video, etc that was ultimately paid for by the taxpayer to lobby for more tax $. That has got to stop unless a counter balance to the one-sided informational flow is also provided. Educational reform needs to happen in the biggest of ways. Regardless - I challenge like minded people to get organized regarding how your tax $ are spent - feel free to "click" on my name above and use the "Post Board" to let me know how to reach you. Let's organize.
Al Anderson November 10, 2011 at 12:29 AM
Aimee I'm all for passionate people doing what they believe in. Good for you. I do believe in a tremendous education for children at a reasonable price. That committee wasn't open for the community to participate in - so the effort put forth wasn't an objective one. When you get only a monolithic perspective - you're only going to put out one conclusion. And as a matter of fact - I did spend extensive time laying out the FACTS about the districts' informational inaccuracies as well as the current cost side of the referendum equation. The information received from the IiE committee and the school district was about the need for more taxes to support certain initiatives. That is the Kool-Aid that was dispensed.
William November 10, 2011 at 02:40 AM
As a parent with a couple of daughters I'm glad it passed. The education they are getting at STMA is a quality education. They feel like they have a future. One of them would like to be physical therapist and the other one wants to be a dentist. They wil be taking care of future generations. Do children of other communities have the same dreams? I think the quality of their education and their high school experience has given them hope.
Aimee Libby November 10, 2011 at 05:49 AM
Actually, Al - the Invest In Excellence committee was NOT hand-picked by any school administration. And believe it or not, it WAS open to the community...and there were MANY community members who were behind this effort. The Patch even did an article where a link to our website was listed, as well as our Facebook page that was used to inform the community where each meeting was held so that anyone could attend. Here's the article: http://stmichael.patch.com/articles/community-organization-forms-to-support-st-michael-albertville-school-referendum There are continuous calls for volunteers to serve on a wide variety of school committees, so I think it's ridiculously unfair to act like the district is conniving to pull the wool over everyone's eyes. I'm off to drink my kool-aid now...

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