School referendum: 1 pass, 1 fail
In a special school referendum vote held Monday night, over 700 voters turned out to pass the Technology Levy 384-321, while the building bond failed by a vote of 379-325.
"I'm sad that the building bond didn't pass, but I am happy and elated that the tech levy passed. It means we won't have to cut staff and programs."
The number of voters were approximately the same as those that voted two years ago for renovations/upgrade made at the school.
"There wasn't anything else on the ballot for local or state elections this time," Deitte said. "So, we didn't expect a huge turnout for just two questions. But we were pleased that this many people voted."
The Technology Levy that passed was for $500,000 for 10 years.
"We had nothing left in the budget," Deitte said. "If this hadn't passed, we likely would have had to cut some staff and programs. That is never a good thing."
Technology costs have triple since 2013.
“Currently, technology costs are more than $450,000 a year," said Deitte. "We asked voters for $500,000 a year for 10 years in order to cover other costs that might come up. Inflation is currently around five percent and the state's funding increase is only at two percent."
Devices generally need to be replaced every three or four years. Technology, however, also covers Career and Tech, which is Shop and FACS or home economics classes, as well as servers, curriculum and other infrastructure to support the building.
Career and Technology equipment also needs to be updated at the school. This includes welding, agriculture, business and woodworking.
The need for paraprofessionals has doubled since 2010 (from 12 to 24), doubling the school's costs as well. Another area with rising costs is Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO). Costs have risen from $7,500.00 in 2008 to $165,000.00 in 2021.With rising technology, staffing and PSEO costs, other areas of the budget have been greatly affected.
With the passing of the Tech Levy, it allows for additional opportunities for the students and will stabilize the budget in the future.
The building bond was proposed for $7.3 million, plus interest, over 20 years and proposed modernizing and expanding the cafeteria, stage area, wrestling room, parking lot, bathroom facilities at K.P. Kompelien Field, playground upgrade, and more.
Minneota has one of the few athletic fields in the state with no restroom facility. Instead, porta-potties are available, although they are more difficult for elderly and/or handicapped people to utilize.
The parking lot and playground equipment is outdated and have not been upgraded since 1991.
"The parking lot we have now can't be repaired anymore," Deitte said. "It needs to be removed and replaced. It has large cracks and potholes. The playground equipment has been welded together several times and also needs to be replaced."
School administrators understand some of the reasons for only one of the two questions being passed.
"I think when the people voted, they looked at the two questions and felt the Tech Levy was needed to continue to operate these programs efficiently, as was the more important of the two questions," said Deitte. "They might have felt we can still operate with porta potties at the ballfield and we can still drive on the parking lot, and we can continue to repair the playground equipment. Things like that. And while that's true, these things need to be addressed at some point soon, too."
The school board will discuss the next step in dealing with the failed building bond referendum at its next meeting.