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Sleepy Eye levy fails

Vote closer than last year

November 7, 2012
By Fritz Busch - Staff Writer , The Journal

SLEEPY EYE - District 84 voters turned down a levy referendum for the third consecutive year Tuesday, by a 1,486 to 1,161 vote.

Superintendent John Cselovszki said he was pleased with the higher percentage of voters in favor of the five-year, $500 per-pupil unit (PPU) referendum that would have generated $274,309 a year.

"We appreciate the yes voters and the fact there were almost 10 percent more of them than last year (44 percent this year, 34 percent last year)," Cselovszki said. "More and more people are seeing the need. That's a pretty good increase in my opinion."

Last year, Dist. 84 voters turned down a seven-year, $1,000 PPU referendum, 66 to 34 percent. Two years ago, district voters turned down a $1,500 PPU referendum.

Cselovszki said he supports the board putting another $500 PPU referendum in front of district voters next fall.

"We have reserves (funds) and our goal is to come back again with the same referendum we did this year and hope enough voters change their minds," Cselovszki said. "...I congratulate New Ulm (District 88) for passing their referendum Tuesday."

District 84 is one of the few school districts in Minnesota without a levy referendum in place. Over the past three years, the school board approved more than $850,000 in budget cuts including an elementary principal position (now manned by Cselovszki), several elementary and high school positions, an elementary social worker, ELL (English Language Learner) teacher, office support staff, a library assistance, elective, counseling, athletic director and staff development cuts.

Following extensive research and visits to several schools last year, the school district held three public hearings and completed an application to convert to a four-day school week in an effort to save about $80,000 a year. The application was rejected last April by Minnesota Department Education Commissioner Dr. Brenda Cassellius.

District 84 school board incumbent Darla Remus and newcomers Joleen Dittbenner and Jon Riederer ran unopposed Tuesday for three board seats. Remus received 1,962 votes, Riederer 1,858 and Dittbenner 1,798 votes. There were 214 write-in votes.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at



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