Area school districts get tough feedback from voters

School ballot questions received a lot of "no" answers on Nov. 3, while Nevis voters traded in an incumbent school board member for new.

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The Park Rapids was not the only school district in the area whose referendum received a “no” answer from voters on Tuesday. A similar mood prevailed in Menahga, Laporte and Bemidji.

Meanwhile, Nevis voters chose a new school board member over an incumbent.

Nevis School Board races

The Nevis School District had five candidates running for three seats on its school board.

Apparent winners were Karrin Lindow with 996 votes, incumbent Justin Isaacson with 845 and incumbent Maggie Stacey with 741.

Trailing them were incumbent school board member Larry Smith with 602 votes, Craig Hanson with 541, and 35 write-in votes.


Lindow has four children enrolled at Nevis School. “I have a senior, a sophomore, an eighth grader and a sixth grader,” she said. “My first goal is to learn how everything on the board works. I ran for school board because I want to be a part of making Nevis an even better school. I want to support the growth they have already shown.”

Lindow said keeping kids in school during the pandemic is the biggest issue facing the school.

“I have a strong position on getting them back into school full time,” she said. “My kids are very social. They need that interaction.”

As the owner of Nevis Lumber since 2005, she said her business actively supports robotics and the school building program. “I support any extra classes students can get,” she said. “The more education they can get when they’re young, the better off they will be in the future.”

Menahga School operating levy fails

The Menahga School District’s request to establish an operating levy of $180 per pupil failed.

Unofficial tallies were 1,433 “no” votes (66.9 percent), while 709 voted “yes” (33.1 percent).


The school board had promised to replace taxes paid 100 percent by local property taxpayers with the operating levy, which is 62 percent state aid. The estimated net tax savings to the community was approximately $115,000.

On Wednesday morning, Superintendent Kevin Wellen said, “We saw this as an opportunity to give back to taxpayers. The good news is the election did not cost the district anything and taxes will not be impacted.”

In races for three seats on the Menahga School Board, Bob White received 1,401 votes; Julia Kicker received 1,293; and there were 493 write-in votes.

Laporte School capital levy may fail

In a ballot question, the Laporte School District asked voters to authorize a capital project levy of 10.287 percent of the district’s net tax capacity, or approximately $300,000 for taxes payable in 2021, continuing for 10 years, to fund approximately $3 million in school improvements.

Unfortunately, two of the district’s 11 precincts – including Lakeport Township – had not reported vote totals as of noon Wednesday. Based on the remaining nine precincts, the ballot question seems to have failed, with 294 “no” votes (55.4 percent) and 237 “yes” (44.6 percent).

In further balloting, four candidates ran for four seats on the Laporte School Board. With nine of 11 precincts reporting, there were 415 votes for Jessica Howg, 323 for Holly Wright, 267 for John Seegmiller, 285 for George M. Taylor, Jr., and 41 write-ins.

also had a special election for one additional school board member. With the same nine of 11 precincts reporting, Joe Jorland had 424 votes and there were 9 write-ins.

Bemidji Area Schools referendum fails

A ballot measure to increase taxes for Bemidji Area Schools seems to have failed.


Among the school district’s 37 precincts were eight in Hubbard County, seven of which were reporting vote totals as of noon on Wednesday. Of those Hubbard County voters, 1,311 voted “no” (71.1 percent) and 533 voted “yes” (28.9 percent).

With 36 out of 37 precincts reporting throughout the school district, there were 9,971 "no" votes (61 percent) and 6,382 "yes" votes (39 percent), but this may not account for all mail-in votes.

If it had been approved, the measure would have replaced the district’s existing referendum authority of $180 per pupil with a new one for $460 per pupil. The tax would have been levied in 2020 for taxes payable in 2021 and applicable for 10 years unless otherwise revoked or reduced. The property tax portion of the revenue authorized would have required an estimated referendum tax rate of 0.07384% for taxes payable in 2021.

The failure of the referendum likely means the district will need to make severe cuts. Board members have indicated that since 80% of the district’s budget goes toward staff wages and benefits, staffing changes would likely be in order.

W-H-A and CL-B

Hubbard County had 10 precincts voting in Tuesday’s election for the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley School District.

The district had four candidates running for four seats on its school board. With eight of the 10 precincts reporting, Hubbard County voters awarded 548 votes to Blake Nordin, 509 to Lori Stein, 508 to Linda Arts and 498 to Victoria “Vicki” White. There were also 12 write-in votes.

Votes from two Lakeport Township precincts were not available as of noon Wednesday.

The Cass Lake-Bena School District had a nine-way election for four seats on its school board. Four of the district’s electoral precincts are in Hubbard County; however, the two precincts in Farden Twp. had not reported their vote totals as of noon Wednesday.


With only two Hart Lake Twp. precincts reporting, Hubbard County votes went as follows: 30 to David Yates, 21 to Matt Erickson, 16 to Jamie Mitchell, 15 to Luey Kane, 10 to Millie Baird, 9 to Paul Andersen, 7 to Jennie Reyes, 5 to Bonita Brown-Desjarlais and 3 to Rebecca “Becky” Graves.

Districtwide, it appears that the winning candidates were Reyes, Mitchell, Baird and Yates.

Additional reporting from the Bemidji Pioneer

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