But doesn’t erase budget concerns

School District 191 voters approved a levy Tuesday that will raise about $1.7 million a year in new money for operating costs.

The measure passed with 61.3 percent of the vote. It revokes the district’s two current voter-approved levies and replaces them with a single levy that includes the new funding. The levy amount will be up to $1,900 per pupil or the maximum allowed under a state cap, whichever is less.

The result “affirms what attracted me” to the district, that “the community really supports our students and our schools and programs,” said Superintendent Theresa Battle, a former St. Paul administrator who joined the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage district in July.

“It would take us from approximately $13.8 million a year to almost $16 million a year in additional revenue thanks to our voters,” Battle said.

The single levy won’t require voter approval for 10 years. Because the district is near the state cap, no general operating levy elections are expected in the next decade. A technology levy voters approved in 2015 expires in 2025.

The new taxes will cost the owner of a $250,000 home about $76 a year.

They won’t erase a $5.5 million shortfall expected in 2020-21, meaning more budget cuts are on the horizon. The district cut $6.5 million from its 2019-20 budget.

The levy referendum is one of several steps to stabilize the district’s budget, Battle said. Others include the possible closure of two elementary schools and a middle school and sale of Diamondhead Education Center.

The district also hopes to find budget efficiencies and alternative revenue sources and attract more students through program innovation.

Tuesday’s voter turnout was 13 percent for the single ballot measure.

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