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Voters give thumbs up to most school district referendums

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Administrators in a number of Minnesota school districts are certainly breathing a sigh of relief on Tuesday. The majority of districts with ballot measures seeking to raise money were approved by voters. About one in five of the state's 333 districts made such requests.

MPR reported that most of the 76 districts with property tax levy requests seeking operating expenses were concentrated in the metro area. In addition, 26 districts asked voters to fund building projects, like school renovations and additions.

Voters in Bloomington, Richfield, St. Louis Park and Hopkins are among those approving school measures.

The Pioneer Press tracked results for school districts in the east metro, noting passage in nearly all of the dozen districts seeking requests to renew existing levies and to raise new money.

Districts facing steep cuts, like Stillwater and Lakeville, were the biggest winners, passing levies that will raise new funding to help close projected budget deficits.

Other districts that approved referendums include Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan, Hastings, Inver Grove Heights, South Washington County, Roseville, Mounds View and White Bear Lake. But Mahtomedi voters defeated a request to increase the district operating levy.

The Duluth News Tribune reported that Duluth voters approved two school district funding measures, with the renewal of the current operating levy passing handily and the second question, seeking an increase, just squeaking by. Voters in Hermantown and Hibbing also approved school district requests to boost funding.

Although Minnesota lawmakers approved $485 million in new education funding last session, many school districts found it wasn't enough to end the need for additional funds approved by voters.

Next year, $134 million of the new funding arrives, meant to fund all-day kindergarten. The push for all-day kindergarten may explain why so many districts asked voters to approve building projects. An increase in kindergarten students will mean districts need more classroom space starting in the fall of 2014.

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