PEQUOT LAKES — The voters have spoken, and the word was: “Yes.”
Pequot Lakes School District voters approved a $33.175 million bond referendum Tuesday, with 1,352 yes votes to 910 no votes, a 442-vote difference.
Pequot Lakes voters cast 1,031 yes votes and 560 no votes, passing by nearly a 2-1 margin. Crosslake voters also approved the referendum but by a smaller margin with 236 yes votes to 184 no votes.
Absentee ballots included 85 yes votes and 166 no votes.
This is the same building bond referendum that failed last June by 1,087 no votes to 822 yes votes.
Superintendent Rick Linnell credited better communication between the district and voters for the referendum's passage, as well as an active Vote Yes Committee made up of parents and community members.
Many Vote Yes supporters took turns standing out on the main roadways in Crosslake, Breezy Point and Pequot Lakes throughout the day Tuesday carrying signs of support for the referendum and encouraging residents to vote.
“I'm excited for the kids,” said Linnell. “I think the community has spoken for the kids in our district. … This is pretty overwhelming at 442 votes.”
Linnell said the school board will canvass the votes at a special meeting at 6 p.m. Monday. He said within the next two months the board will likely hire an architectural firm to work on plans for remodeling both school buildings.
Linnell said he is hopeful that construction could begin in one year, spring 2012, with the entire 3-year project completed by the end of the 2014-15 school year.
The bond referendum, with costs spread over 23-1/2 years, will be used for necessary repairs, such as replacing a broken boiler and repairing the roof and track at the high school, as well as building additions at both the elementary and high school buildings to alleviate space needs and overcrowding.
One of the plans is to move the fifth grade from Eagle View Elementary School to the middle school. Linnell said he's unsure whether this move would take place as early as next fall.