Voters approved one of three Eastern Carver County Schools referendum questions on Tuesday.
Voters approved the security and technology levy by 1,002 votes (6,069-5,067), according to results posted by the school district.
However, an increase of the operating levy failed by 193 votes (5,478-5,671); and another question, asking for a bus garage facility, building maintenance and a new elementary school, failed by 495 votes (5,819-5,324).
Since the third question renewed an existing levy, homeowners won’t see a tax increase, but continue paying $14.33 a month (for the average home) toward security and technology.
The voting wraps up what has been the most contested school referendum in recent history.
“The voters have had their say and tomorrow we go back to serving kids, which is what we do every day,” said Celi Haga, district communications and community relations director, on Tuesday night.
“The failure of the operating referendum (Question 1) means the district will begin immediately to plan for $4.5 million in budget reductions,” stated a district press release. “Superintendent Clint Christopher will be meeting with principals and district administrative staff to review immediate steps and start planning for the 2020-21 school year.”
Voters turned out large numbers. In 2015, during the last referendum, referendum questions received about 8,100 votes. This year, it was closer to 11,100. (Note: Election results are unofficial until canvassed by the school board on Nov. 14.)
The first referendum question asked for an operating levy increase of $550 per student or approximately $5.6 million per year for 10 years, adjusted for inflation.
The second question was a 20-year bond request for $111.7 million to build a new elementary school, repair buildings and acquire a larger bus garage.
The third question called for renewal of existing security and technology levy, approximately $4.4 million per year for 10 years to support school security and technology.
The majority of Chaska voters cast ballots in favor of every question. The other cities in the Eastern Carver County School district — Victoria, Chanhassen and Carver — voted against questions 1 and 2. Carver and Victoria voted against question 3, while Chanhassen voted for it.
Voters approved two questions during the last referendum in 2015 on more than a 2-1 margin, increasing a student operating levy and approving $66.7 million for buildings and improvements — including a sports dome, elementary school additions, new elementary school and new swimming pool.
Between 1995 and 2015 there were eight different referendums, and voters approved six of them.