Every vote was crucial in the Brainerd School District's $59.9 million bond referendum, which passed Tuesday by a narrow margin of 97 votes.
There were 4,317 yes votes, or 50.57 percent, and 4,220 no votes, or 49.43 percent, for a total of 8,537 voters. Business Manager Steve Dickinson said this was one-third of the number of registered voters in the school district.
"This was a very decent turnout," said Superintendent Jerry Walseth. "Last fall there were 7,000 voters (who turned out)."
Results were in by 10:40 p.m., except for Platte Township in Morrison County and Homebrook Township in Cass County. These township results were reported this morning.
When results started to pour in Tuesday, it appeared the bond would be defeated. With 11 of the 27 precincts in, results were 652 yes votes to 1,165 no votes. The no votes climbed, and by 10 p.m. with 19 precincts reporting there were 2,349 yes votes to 2,811 no votes. The Unorganized Territory precinct then brought in 640 more yes votes to 527 no votes.
It came down to the last two precincts to turn the tide in favor of the bond referendum. The largest voting precinct, Baxter, had 1,306 yes votes to 618 no votes. Brainerd Ward 1 also supported the school bond with 370 yes votes to 285 no votes. There were only six precincts that supported the bond.
Walseth said the narrow margin just proves why everyone needs to vote.
"The good news is our community had enough information to feel comfortable to vote," Walseth said. "I'm pleased with the board and all the people who opposed. This brought both sides out so the community can make a decision."
Marv Begin, leader of the bond opposition group and former school board candidate, said this morning he plans to ask for a recount today or Thursday.
Roy Luukkonen, Crow Wing County auditor, said this morning that if the margin between the yes and no votes is less than a half percent of the people who voted, the school district would have to pay for a recount.
Since the margin is greater than a half percent, the person requesting a recount needs a signed petition of 25 people or more.
"I'm usually a good loser, but this time I'm not a good loser," said Begin.
Begin said the children and staff in the school district will be the losers in the new middle school that will be built in Baxter.
School board members said Tuesday night, when 25 of the 27 precincts came in, they were happy for all the students in the district.
"The real winners are the kids," said Lew Hudson, board member.
"I'm thrilled for our kids," added board member Janet Moran. "This will be a wonderful opportunity for them and I'm pleased with the number of people who took an interest in them."
Board member Randy Klinger said he is proud to be in a school district that puts children first.
"As generations before us, we realize the importance of education," he said. "I'm ecstatic (about the results). I knew going into this that it'd be close."
Board member Bob Nystrom was pleased that the community values children and sets education as a priority.
Patti Harrison, who opposed the building bond, said this morning, "It's unfortunate that the school board thought it had to spend $21,000 to get the bond through. I'd like to see the school board meetings televised so the public knows what is being spent."
Board member Bernie Roberts said now that the bond passed the district will move forward and use the funds to improve the facilities and educational opportunities.
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