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MRLF helps pass 20 of 23 levies in 12 school districts

From the Minneapolis Labor Review, November 17, 2017

By Steve Share, Labor Review editor

MINNEAPOLIS —Voters in Minneapolis-area suburban school districts said “yes” to schools by wide margins November 7, passing school levy requests in 12 school districts.

The levies will help reduce class sizes, build new schools, rehab existing facilities,  and invest in new technology to enhance student learning, among other objectives.

The Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO endorsed a total of 23 levies in 12 school districts — and worked actively in targeted districts to coordinate union activity to help levies pass.

Only three of the ballot questions failed to pass.

Across the metro area, Education Minnesota’s local teachers’ unions partnered with the Building Trades, school parents and community members to pass the levies.

“In my 39 years of union work, I never have seen such a well-orchestrated, collaborative effort from all the labor groups,” said LeMoyne Corgard, president of Anoka-Hennpin Education Minnesota.

“From phone-banking to door-knocking to literature drops, literally going out seven days a week, everybody contributed in many ways.”

Anoka-Hennepin (ISD #11)

In the Anoka-Hennepin school district,  the largest in the state, voters approved an operating levy with just over 66 percent voting yes and a $249 million bond levy with nearly 66 percent voting yes.
“In this district, to go with a two-thirds majority, I don’t think we’ve every passed [a levy] with that support,” Corgard said. “I think we had a clear, well-articulated message to the voters. I felt we put out very accurate, honest information so the voters could make a well-informed decision.”

Bloomington (ISD #271)

In the Bloomington school district, a $22.4 million operating levy to continue and increase a current levy passed with more than 69 percent support.

Brooklyn Center (ISD #286)

In the Brooklyn Center school district, voters passed two levy requests: an operating levy passed with nearly 55 percent support and a $29.93 million construction bonding request passed with nearly 54 percent support.

Columbia Heights (ISD #13)

Voters in the Columbia Heights school district voted 1,602-1,508 to reject a bonding request for $16 million to build and improve school facilities. The measure failed to pass by 94 votes.

Hopkins (ISD #270)

Three ballot questions in the Hopkins school district passed with overwhelming support: a $30 million bond passed with nearly 78 percent support, a capital projects levy passed with 78 percent support, and an operating levy passed with 77 percent support.

Maple Lake (ISD #881)

Voters in the Maple Lake school district passed an operating levy with more than 57 percent voting yes and a technology levy with more than 58 percent voting yes.

Prior Lake-Savage (ISD #719)

Prior Lake-Savage school district voters passed a $109.3 million construction levy with 62 percent voting in support and an operating levy, also with 62 percent support.

Richfield (ISD #280)

In the Richfield school district, voters passed an operating levy with 75 percent in favor and a $86.8 million construction levy with 75 percent support.

Rockford (ISD #883)

Rockford school district voters voted to reject two levy requests: Nearly 56 percent voted no to an operating levy and  just over 55 percent voted no to a nearly $4 million technology levy.

St. Francis (ISD #15)

A construction levy to raise $80 million in the St. Francis school district passed with more than 52 percent voting in favor.

St. Louis Park (ISD #283)

In the St. Louis Park school district, the two levy questions received overwhelming support: 85 percent voted yes to renew an operating levy while 81 percent voted yes for a $100.9 million construction levy.

Wayzata (ISD #284)

Wayzata school district voters approved three ballot questions: Nearly 77 percent of voters supported the renewal and increase of an operating levy; 77 percent of voters backed a $70 million construction levy; 79 percent of voters backed a technology levy.

$1 billion to be raised statewide

Adding up all the levies across the state, voters approved a total of about $1 billion for their local public schools.

“The results show individual Minnesotans are willing to spend a little more to give the children in their communities a great start, with well-trained, professional educators and modern buildings,” said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota. “[November 7] was a good day for the children in those communities.”


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