Lakeville voters: A great big ‘yes’

Voters approve $5.6 million levy with 68 percent of ballots cast

1Stickers_3423-275x275Voters said a huge ‘yes’ to Lakeville-Area School District’s 10-year $5.6 million levy question, passing the measure with 68 percent of the 11,768 ballots cast.

The ‘yes’ levy voters held the lead all night as election results came in and were posted by on the district’s Facebook page.

“I’m just so grateful to the community,” said District Superintendent Lisa Snyder. “So many people voted, and that alone is such a positive testimony. People are listening and engaged with our district whether they voted for the levy or not.”

Turnout was strong at the polling locations, the district reported Tuesday afternoon, with most locations reporting steady traffic all day and many sites requesting more ballots.

District spokeswoman Linda Swanson said recent referendum votes have typically been very tight races.

“Usually it’s 52-48 and it’s up and down all night,” Swanson said, noting the ‘yes’ voters held over 60 percent of the vote all night.

Lakeville School District’s levy will add $540 of per-pupil funding to district coffers, allowing the district to maintain operations, hire about 20 teachers to reduce class size in some areas while boosting science, technology, engineering and math classes for all grades.

After years of declining enrollment and reduced state funding, the district had cut $30 million from its budget over the past seven years, according to Swanson.

Parents had complained about cuts to art and music programs and rising activity fees.

To pass the levy, district officials held numerous informational meetings and a group of parents formed “Unite for 194,’ to urge community support for the tax increase.

Unite for 194 member Amy Willingham said she was pleased to see the referendum passed, watching results with others who campaigned for the levy.

“We had no idea how much support was out there,” she said. “We’re shocked. We thought it was out there, but we’re really impressed by how the citizens of Lakeville have sent a message that Lakeville wants to invest in education and kids.”

According to the district, the levy will result in a net property tax increase of $167 on an average-valued $230,000 home starting in 2014.