Did group help defeat referendum?

Local News

Members of a group who opposed passage of Blue Earth Area’s (BEA) excess levy referendum aren’t taking any credit for its defeat Tuesday.

In fact, two persons associated with the group didn’t know who placed ads on KBEW Radio on behalf of the Five Star Group.

The 10-year referendum, which would have generated about $900,000 a year in revenue, was narrowly voted down, 756-721.

The Five Star Group, consisting of 10 community members and business leaders, was formed in April 2015 when BEA officials proposed closing the Winnebago Elementary School.

District officials have said that passage of the operating levy was needed to avoid future cuts that are estimated to be at least $1 million. Last year, School Board members trimmed the budget by $425,364.

Superintendent Mandy Fletcher says despite being saddened by the election results, she remains optimistic about the future of Blue Earth Area.

“Over the coming months, we will be looking at many, many numbers and options to make some tough decisions this spring,” says Fletcher.

“We have indeed encountered a setback … we will always do what is in the best interest of our students and continue to build the trust within our communities,” she adds.

At the polling places in Blue Earth and Frost, voters supported the referendum 449-309 and 75-53, respectively.

However, it was a different story at the polls in Winnebago, Delavan and Elmore.

More than 72 percent casting ballots in Winnebago voted against the referendum with a vote of 200-76.

Almost 63 percent of the Delavan voters, 124-73, said no, while in Elmore the vote was 70-50 against.

“The district — staff, students and communities — are strong and determined and will learn and grow together,” says Fletcher.

The levy would have brought in $900 per pupil in the first year, followed by inflationary increases in each of the remaining nine years.

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