A heavily debated issue that has captured the community’s attention for nearly a year has been settled: St. Michael-Albertville School District will get its money to build classrooms, sports facilities and more as residents here passed a ballot measure tonight.
Voters flocked to polls Tuesday, Feb. 7 to weigh in on the St. Michael-Albertville School District’s first bond referendum in more than a decade, as the district asked voters for more than $36 million in local tax dollars to fund everything from technology improvements and classroom space to sports facilities and, ultimately, a second sheet of ice at the St. Michael-Albertville Arena.
The vote was close – 53 percent voting yes, about 47 percent voting no. There were 5,403 votes cast in the election, which was approved by the St. Michael-Albertville School Board last summer after the board, along with the cities of Albertville and St. Michael, opted not to levy for a new ice arena, instead creating a slate of items for local schools and taking the issue to voters.
Heavy opposition came from conservative voters who spear-headed a “Vote No” group that included families with and without students in the district activities, while parents of students in activities and others rallied behind the Yes cause. The division was reflected in a close vote, separated by just 351 ballots.
“I wish to sincerely thank the St. Michael-Albertville community for their support of the STMA Bond,” Superintendent Dr. Ann-Marie Foucault said. “The STMA Bond will provide much needed classroom and facility space for our students and community. It will also allow us to do much needed updates in the areas of safety, energy efficiency, and technology. I am proud of the community for putting students first and for their continued support of our long tradition of excellence.
I would like to thank district staff, the representatives and staff of the Cities of St. Michael and Albertville, and all of the volunteers who gave so freely of their time, energy, and talents to get people out to vote and build awareness of the STMA Bond,” Foucault continued. “I look forward to partnering with the community as we move forward during this exciting time.”
“I’m proud that our community saw the importance of building for our future,” said St. Michael resident Chris Hansen, chair of the Vote Yes for STMA committee. “It took the efforts of so many wonderful people to pull together and make this happen for our kids and more importantly for the benefit of the STMA community. I am happy for our community, the dedicated STMA staff and teachers, but most importantly, for the kids for generations to come who are fortunate enough to call STMA their home. Today is a celebration for them! Thank you to all the voters who were willing to invest in the future of our community’s children.”
The STMA School Board will canvass the election at its Feb. 13 meeting, officially accepting the result.
North Wright County Today will have reaction from school officials and community members as this story develops.