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Most school levies pass in Minnesota

With 57 percent approval from voters, the East Grand Forks school system was able to retain its current operating levies.

With a vote of 559 for and 423 against, EGF renewed per-pupil levies of $500 and $126 for the next 10 years. Superintendent Dave Pace said the local levies, which will generate $1.2 million annually, will "help offset the instability from the state of Minnesota."

Although East Grand Forks passed a levy four years ago with 61 percent approval, Pace was nervous about the economic times and political climate.

"This is a difficult time to be asking voters for revenue, the way the economy and other things are," Pace said. "It doesn't help when you have a leader of (the Republican) party and the Taxpayer's League of Minnesota coming out against it."

Of the 14 per-pupil referendums in northwest Minnesota, 11 passed, two failed and one hadn't finished counting at press time.

Approvals above 60 percent

Climax-Shelly buried the anti-tax trend, passing the renewal of a $1,931 levy with 115 in favor and 4 opposed. The 97 percent approval came despite the $1,931 being the biggest levy in the state heading into Tuesday's election.

The levy was scheduled to expire in 2012, but now will remain in place until 2022.

"It's my 70th year here, and I'm still amazed by how the community supports its school system," Superintendent Norm Baumgarn said.

Also passing levies were Ada-Borup with 83 percent approval, Badger with 79 percent, Warroad with 72 percent, Thief River Falls with 65 percent, Grygla-Gatzke and Roseau with 64 percent, Greenbush-Middle River with 63 percent, Crookston with 61 percent and Tri-County with 60 percent.

Thief River Falls also passed a $54 million bond referendum for technology and facilities improvement with 52 percent approval.

Badger Superintendent Tom Jerome said it has passed all nine referendums it has faced, dating back to 1897. Warroad's renewal of a $126 levy was in sharp contrast to a year ago, when it asked for a $200 increase on a $600 levy.

"It got smoked by a 2-to-1 margin," Superintendent Craig Oftedahl said. "Voters aren't for increases."

Crookston's passing came a year after a similar measure lost by 100 votes.

"I can only speculate, but I think we had a few influential people do more of the campaigning this year," Superintendent Wayne Gilman said. "And, we had a lot more voices being heard. It seemed to make a difference."

Crookston also passed a $100 per pupil levy that will support its indoor swimming pool.

The two northwest Minesota referendums that failed were at Clearbrook-Gonvick and Stephen-Argyle. C-G's lost by a 2-1 margin while Stephen Argyle's attempt to double its per-student levy to $2,000 had 256 votes in favor and 322 against.

Marshall County Central's results were not available at press time.