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Published November 09, 2011, 05:45 PM

REFERENDUM ROUNDUP: Relief and Concern Following Tuesday's Vote

(WDAZ-TV) - Leaders of some area school districts are relieved after referenda to help them pay the bills were approved by voters. But, there are still concerns about stretching those funds out in a tough economy.

(WDAZ-TV) - Leaders of some area school districts are relieved after referenda to help them pay the bills were approved by voters.

But, there are still concerns about stretching those funds out in a tough economy.

Both East Grand Forks and Crookston school districts will now have the money they need to maintain current programs and update technology, but school officials are still concerned about how to stretch those funds.

Some area school officials are breathing a sigh of relief after a "yes" vote will allow them to get the funding they desperately need.

"We can now maintain the types of programs that we have and then replace and repair and rebuild like our technology and buy buses and fix buildings," Crookston teacher and coach Jon Bittner said.

The Crookston school system asked for a $1,000 increase per student to maintain class sizes, keep staff and update technology.

But, school leaders are still cautious.

"There's another wild card here and that's what the legislatures going to do. They're still holding 40 percent of our funding and there's always a possibility we don't get that," Crookston superintendent Wayne Gilman said.

The East Grand Forks school district will retain its current operating levies after a 57 percent approval by voters. Superintendent David Pace was slightly worried about the outcome.

"Knowing the difference with the economy and things throughout the area you were somewhat cautiously optimistic but knowing it was going to be a close vote," Pace said.

Although both school leaders are relieved to get the funding they need, they will have to be careful with their budgets over the next couple of years.

"We're thankful for the outcome and we'll move on from there," Pace said.

"Want to thank our voters because they came out and spoke in support of this and we appreciate that," Gilman said.

"Absolutely relieved and feeling fortunate and well-blessed," Bittner said.

The East Grand Forks School District would have lost nearly $1 million over the next two years which would force many cuts.

Crookston may have had to close an elementary school, cut principals, teachers and activities.

Some schools who passed their referenda include Climax-Shelly, Ada-Borup, Badger, Greenbush, Middle River and Warroad.

Voters in Thief River Falls voted yes on an extension of the current operating levy.

Voters also approved a $54 million bond referendum for that district.

Two northwest Minnesota referendums failed. Clearbrook-Gonvick's lost by a 2-1 margin.

Stephen-Argyle attempted to double its per-student levy to $2,000. 256 votes were in favor and 322 against.

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