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Pelican Rapids voters approve $21.9 million school bond

PELICAN RAPIDS, Minn. – Voters approved a $21.9 million bond referendum to repair and renovate its middle school and high school with 51.9 percent of the vote Tuesday despite efforts from a notorious political consultant who helped defeat a similar proposal here last spring.

This time around, both sides used the help of political consultants to reach voters.

Don Perrin of Moving Forward PR, a group in favor of the referendum, attributed the measure’s success to the school district’s efforts to better explain the need for the project.

“I talked to a lot of people that said they voted no last time,” Perrin said. “They understand the needs better now than they did then.”

The district sought assistance from a Twin Cities marketing consultant to get information to voters.

The anti-bond group enlisted the help of Paul Dorr – an Iowa-based consultant who aims to eliminate public education and has defeated dozens of bond measures across the country. By his count, he’s run about 80 campaigns throughout Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, South Carolina and Texas.

Perrin said some voters might have been irritated with Dorr’s involvement because of his “extreme” anti-public school agenda.

In complete but unofficial results, 2,748 votes were cast, with 1,426 voting in favor and 1,320 against.

The approved $21.9 million bond will cover repairs and maintenance needs such as installing energy-efficient windows; renovating bathrooms, junior high classrooms, high school fine arts and science classrooms; and rebuilding the 1928 auditorium and replacing it with a multipurpose cafeteria and commons space.

The project also includes a more secure main entrance and a new gymnasium with an elevated walking track for students and the public to use.

Perrin said he was excited the measure passed after struggling to secure funding for building projects and educating students in the past.

“It’ll be like a new school, without the expense of a new school,” he said.

Cali Owings | Forum News Service

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