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Referendum news mixed for New Ulm, Sleepy Eye

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After anxiously awaiting-election results, two school districts in our area received two different decisions handed down by voters.

New Ulm Public Schools got the news they we're hoping for as the referendum request was approved. But in the Sleepy Eye School District, ballot-casters shot down an operating levy.

"It's pretty frustrating...you're asking...and rejection is hard to take," said John Cselovszki, superintendent of Sleepy Eye Public Schools.

But in New Ulm, district officials got the news they were hoping for--an approved referendum.

"This is terrific news for the school district, I'm very thankful and pleased with the results," said Harold Remme, New Ulm Public Schools superintendent.
 
After 10 full-time-equivalent employees were cut during the last round of budget reductions, the New Ulm School District was given the nod to a $575 per pupil operating levy. Remme says the referendum will add $118 to the tax bill on a $100,000 home for the next 10 years.
 
"This is going to give us an opportunity to get back on track where we need to be, so that we can provide regular class sizes and enhance our curriculum offerings as well," Remme said.
 
But a little further west, Cselovszki is dealing with another operating levy getting shot down by voters.
 
"We could have used it you know...we're not saying we're in dire straits," Cselovszki said. "We have fund balances. However, our concern is, we made the reductions we had to make already."

This is the third time in 3 years an operating levy in Sleepy Eye has been voted down. On top of that, officials in the district say about $850,000 in cuts have been made during that same timeframe.
 
"We need to maintain what we have," said Cselovszki. "I would not advocate for any more reductions, because I believe that would be harmful for our kids."
 
Even with the operating levy getting voted down in Sleepy Eye, district officials say they don't want to make any more cuts. Next year teacher-contract negotiations will once again start, and the superintendent says it's likely faculty will ask for higher salaries--making the budget situation even tighter.
 
"I would assume they would come with a request to increases salaries," Cselovszki said.
 
The levy in Sleepy Eye would have added an influx of about $300,000 to the district for the next five years.

In New Ulm, officials say the operating levy dollars from the newly-approved referendum will start to trickle into district coffers during the next school year.