Brainerd School District voters have spoken — and they said “Yes, Yes.”
Voters approved the first question, which asked for a renewal of $199.24 per pupil, with 7,036 yes votes, or 70.57 percent, to 2,934, or 29.42 percent.
Voters also approved the second question, which asked for an additional $200 per pupil levy, with 5,371 yes votes, or 53.92 percent, and 4,589 no votes, or 46.07 percent.
There were 506 absentee ballots cast.
School officials waited for the results on the second floor of the Historic Crow Wing County Courthouse Tuesday night.
Absentee ballots were tabulated by 8:15 p.m. with precincts beginning to report back to the building by 9 p.m. The final votes that came in were from Nisswa around 10:50 p.m.
“We did it. A lot better than last time,” board member Ruth Nelson said with a smile as she put her hand on former board member Bob Nystrom’s shoulder as the last votes came in.
“I’m very happy with the support of the community,” board member Ruth Nelson said. “This confirms my belief that when we have well thought out levy questions they will support it.”
Nelson thanked those who worked hard for passage of the levy questions.
“It’s pretty humbling,” said board chair Jim Hunt. “We understand we still need to be the stewards we are and we’re thankful for that. This will give us some breathing room and we can hopefully move ahead without cutting this and that.”
“Again, this community has come through,” added board member Reed Campbell. “And it’s all for the kids.”
Steve Lund, director of business services, said that even though it is good news that both questions passed, the board still has decisions to make in order to balance the budget.
“Our work isn’t done,” said Lund. “We can now trim around the edges with a scalpel instead of hacking away with a hatchet.”
“We are thankful the community has spoken in support of opportunities for students,” said Superintendent Steve Razidlo. “This feels like a measure of trust in the results that the schools provide. ... We’re going to work even harder at being transparent and respectful stewards of this amazing gift from community.”
Marv Begin, who led efforts to oppose the levy questions, said the results surprised him.
“I thought it would be a lot closer than that,” said Begin.
Randy Klinger, co-chair of the Citizens Vote Yes Yes Steering Committee, said his group was cautiously optimistic but continued making calls to potential voters until 7:53 p.m. Tuesday.
“In these uncertain economic times, today, our community came together for our kids and each other,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the collective efforts of the individuals in our community, all working with the same goal of helping kids and helping others.”
County elections coordinator Debby Erickson said 9,989 voters out of 24,928 registered voters cast ballots in Tuesday’s levy referendum, or 39.3 percent.
JODIE TWEED may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.