Little drama in school elections
There was little in the way of drama in Tuesday’s election in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District. Voters returned all three incumbents to the school board and by a nearly two-to-one margin supported a levy that will raise an additional $10 million a year for the district.
The district has been spreading the word about the levy since August, when school board members chose to put the question on the ballot. The measure approved Tuesday will revoke an existing levy that brings in $1,110.95 per student and replace it with one that will raise $1,485. The new levy will bring in an additional $10 million per year.
“We are pleased with the outcome and grateful that voters are willing to increase their investment in our schools to maintain the quality programs that make this a district of choice,” superintendent Jane Berenz said. “The District 196 community has always supported a strong educational program and we will continue to be good stewards of the public’s investment.”
The district had said that without a successful levy it would have had to cut programs such as fifth grade band, ninth grade B-level sports and developmental psychology, a class that sends high school seniors into the district’s middle schools to talk about drug education.
The outcome of the levy vote was never really in question once results started coming in, with every precinct turning in nearly twice as many Yes votes as Nos. By the end of the night there were 14,217 votes in favor of the question and just 7,124 opposed.
District communication specialist Tony Taschner was happy to see consistent support throughout the district. In past elections, Rosemount voters in particular have been less likely to support a levy.
“I give a lot of credit to our principals for carrying the information to our parents, answering the questions they have,” Taschner said. “John Wollersheim at Rosemount High School worked tirelessly. He would talk to anybody who had questions.”
The levy vote might have been helped by changes to state law in the most recent legislative session that reduced the impact of the levy on taxpayers. When board members voted to put the levy on the ballot they announced a successful question would add an additional $184 per year to the taxes on a $225,000 home, the district average. Legislative changes later reduced that amount to $56 per year on that same home.
The successful levy vote does not entirely eliminate cuts from the district’s future. The district still expects to make an estimated $5 to $10 million in cuts in the 2015-16 school year.
Results were similarly clear-cut in the school board election, where incumbents Mike Roseen, Gary Huusko and Art Coulson all won a return trip to the board. Roseen, the longest-serving of the incumbents, was the leading candidate with 12,138 votes. Huusko, an Apple Valley resident running for the first time after being appointed to the board, received 10,616 votes. Art Coulson, in his second election after his own appointment, received 9,811 votes.
Lone challenger Craig Angrimson received 7,199 votes. There were 587 write-ins.
There were 90,800 registered voters in District 196 on election day, and 21,341 — 23.5 percent — cast ballots. That is about five percentage points higher than 2005, which is the last time there was a school district-only election.