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Nevis voters approve one of two questions

Nevis School

Nevis voters approved the $252 per pupil operating levy Tuesday, doubling the current amount, but nixed the technology referendum of $225 per pupil.

"We're excited," superintendent Steve Rassier said of voters endorsing the operating levy, applicable for seven years. "But it was closer than anticipated," he said of the 378-338 margin.

"We're disappointed in the (voters') second decision," he said of the 231 yes votes, 482 no votes on the technology levy. "But we knew it would be an uphill battle. We won't give up on technology. We are convinced this is the right direction.

"But the voters weren't ready to endorse. We need to educate voters," he said. If the proposal had received voter approval, every Nevis student in grades 4 or 5 through 12 would have their own computer - an iPad or prototype - that would be used for nearly all subjects and could be taken home to complete assignments.

Wednesday Rassier indicated the school will seek other sources of funding for technology. The infrastructure is there, he said of the recent fiber cable upgrades in the building. "We will beat the bushes for grants. Or if we're creative," the district may use existing funds to purchase individual electronic devices.

"We're convinced," he said of the merit of the technology proposal. "Now we're looking at options at how else to get there."

The Minnesota School Boards Association reports this year was a good year for operating levies, with a 79 percent approval from voters.

That's the highest since an 86 percent approval in 1997, according to MSBA director of communications Greg Abbott.

MSBA reports 90 districts passed an operating levy question and 24 districts failed to pass a question. That is a 79 percent passage rate for operating levies.

Out of 114 districts seeking an operating levy, 58 were asking for levy renewals; 57 out of 58 of those districts passed their renewal question. ROCORI (Rockville, Cold Spring, Richmond) was the only district to not pass a renewal.

MSBA also shows nine of 12 capital lease levies being approved (most for technology). As for building bonds, four out of nine building bonds were approved.

Higher rates of passage reflect a majority of renewals that didn't affect taxes, Abbott said. But the rates are also high for districts asking for increases.

"The big reason is that odd-year elections have more transparency," Abbott said. "People understand the need for schools to get money to the classroom. They realize that with the state lagging in funding for eight of the past 10 years, local communities had to step up. They made a local decision to put the education of kids before politics."