Northland School Levy Wrap-up

Posted at: 11/02/2013 3:37 PM | Updated at: 11/02/2013 6:12 PM
By: Travis Dill
tdill@wdio.com

Across the Northland voters will make big decisions for local schools on election night, here's a look at what is on the ballots.

In Duluth residents will vote on an education levy renewal and increase.

The Vote No, No Committee made a push last month against both levy options. Duluth business owner Paul King spoke on behalf of the group. He said a tax increase would hurt vulnerable residents and local businesses, and he questioned what the district has achieved with the levy so far.

“When will it be enough? So far the money spend has not reduced class sizes or replace the 10 year old books that don't have covers or helped to focus on those who are at risk of dropping out,” King said.

The Vote No, No Committee suggested replacing the levy with revenue from selling the unused Central High School with no conditions. King also called for a pay freeze or 5 percent cut for district employees.

But the group Stand Up for Kids is fighting for the levy increase. Group chair John Schwetman has children in the Duluth Public Schools. He said the levy's tax burden has been exaggerated.

“The average is about $4 per household in additional property taxes so we're really quibbling over small amounts of money here that can make a huge difference for the kids growing up here in Duluth,” Schwetman said.

In Hermantown the superintendent said the district's middle school is crumbling. If passed, a facilities referendum there would build a new high school and transfer middle school students into the old high school. Taxpayers with a home valued at $200,000 would see a tax increase of about $30 a month.

A referendum in Hibbing will expire at the end of the year. If voters renew it next week the schools will continue to receive about $500,000 for the next 10 years.

The East Central School District near Sandstone is holding a special election for a one-day bond sale. If passed the district would retain $495,000 that are marked for state coffers. The measure will not increase taxes according to the district website.

The polls open on Tuesday for all those levies and referendums. Eyewitness news will have live coverage of these and other local races on election night.

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