EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn. -- Voters in several northwest Minnesota school districts split in voting on referendums related to new or upgraded facilities.

Residents approved bond issues in East Grand Forks and Moorhead, but rejected plans in Greenbush-Middle River, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton and Detroit Lakes. A $1,500 per student funding increase for Tri-County Schools in Karlstad was also approved.

The price tag for upgrades in East Grand Forks were the smallest of any of the referendums on the ballot. Voters approved a $20.6 million proposal for renovations and a 61,000 square-foot addition to the high school. The upgrades would include a career and technical shop, two additional locker rooms, space for vocational classrooms and workshops and a performing arts wing that includes all music, art and performance classes in the same area.

Residents approved the bond referendum with 983 votes in favor to 842 votes against

Moorhead voters approved borrowing $78.2 million for a new 750-student kindergarten through fourth-grade elementary school, adding a fifth- and sixth-grade wing to Horizon Middle School, building a performing arts auditorium at Horizon and make security, safety and other upgrades at the rest of the district's schools.

It passed in Moorhead by an overwhelming margin of 64 percent for and 36 percent against.The unoffical vote totals were 4,015 votes for and 2,256 against.

A controversial new school for students of the Greenbush-Middle River School District was rejected by a wide margin Tuesday, according to unofficial results.

A total of 1,136 of 1,609 votes were cast against a $25 million bond referendum on a new school near Greenbush that would have combined the district's two schools into one, according to results from the Secretary of State's office.

Declining enrollment and a need to renovate schools in both towns required action and led to the proposal for a referendum, residents said.

But potential construction of the new school divided residents in Greenbush and Middle River, two small towns about 20 miles apart.

A renewal of the school district's expiring referendum revenue authorization, however, passed 810 to 738. The proposal renews the existing authorization of $806.05 per student, which expires in 2016.

Tri-County Schools in Karlstad also asked voters to approve a $1,500-per-student funding increase, raising its revenue authorization to $2,776 per student. Voters approved the referendum 55 percent to 45 percent. A total tally of votes was not available by press time.

D-G-F rejected an effort to get tax dollars for a major building and renovation effort. A $31.5 million referendum facing residents was defeated overwhelmingly

Preliminary vote totals showed 1,509 no votes and 339 yes.

The district wanted a new $17.4 million pre-kindergarten through first-grade center in Dilworth, the proposal would mean $7.4 million in renovations and additions to Glyndon-Felton Elementary and D-G-F High School in Glyndon and $4.8 million in additions and renovations at Dilworth Elementary and D-G-F Middle School in Dilworth. It would also have devoted $1.4 million to relocating and expanding ballfields in partnership with the city of Dilworth.

For Detroit Lakes, a $68 million school bond referendum would have built a new middle school and upgrade four other school buildings

The voters have spoken, and for the second time in two years, they have said “no.” t

The $68 million plan was voted down with 2,285 no votes (51.4 percent) and 2,162 yes votes (48.6 percent). That was a difference of 123 votes. A simple majority was needed to pass or fail.

The outcome was what Detroit Lakes Superintendent Doug Froke said was a heartbreaker.

“We thought we had a pretty good plan, and we still think we have a good plan," said Froke. "So one has to look at why people vote ‘no’ on these things."


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