Voters in the St. Michael-Albertville School District have defeated a proposed special operations levy that would have raised local taxes in order to reduce classroom sizes and maintain activities and other programming.
Unofficially, the levy was defeated by a 57.8 percent no vote, receiving 3,458 votes. The “yes” ballots were at 2,533, for just 42.2 percent.
STMA School District Superintendent Ann-Marie Foucault knew the local levy was a large ask, and said the District would be forced to make cuts if the levy failed. She pointed to larger class sizes, some activity reductions and curriculum delays among ways the District can cut costs in the short term.
Opponents of the levy pointed to a building project in 2017 that is already taxing homeowners, and threats of a new recession as reasons to cast votes against the local levy.
There is also a push, from both yes and no voters, to make major changes to the state funding formula so school districts that are lacking in commercial property – taxed at a higher rate than homestead properties – aren’t forced to ask more from local residents each time budget crises emerge.
“It’s a perfect storm,” Foucault said. “With so many hurting after the pandemic – which we’re still in – and so many expenses for schools to deal with the fallout of COVID-19, it’s a tough hurdle for all of us. We’d love to see more help from the state, but that’s just not happening right now.”
The election will be formally canvassed by the STMA School Board in coming days and filed with Wright County to be certified.