Outside the Walls

Outside the Walls

Journal article in Adobe Acrobat form

November, 2001 Referendums in Minnesota
Supplement to May-June MSBA Journal article by Dick Bernard

Total Referendum Districts included in sample: 100%

Registered Voters in District/
Number of Districts in size range/
% Registered Voters casting ballots

0-999 / 17 / 38.0%
1000-1999 / 36 / 38.2%
2000-2999 / 27 / 36.5%
3000-3999 / 18 / 39.4%
4000-4999 / 18 / 37.0%
5000-5999 / 9 / 36.7%
6000-6999 / 4 / 36.9%
7000-7999 / 8 / 36.3%
8000-8999 / 4 / 35.5%
9000-9999 / 2 / 32.5%
10000-19999 / 16 / 36.5%
20000-29999 / 10 / 34.3%
30000-39999 / 6 / 27.3%
40000-49999 / 2 / 31.2%
50000-59999 / 5 / 38.1%
SD A - 53% - Fail
SD B - 41% - Pass
SD C - 28% - Fail
SD D - 31% - Fail
SD E - 35% - Fail
60000-69999 / 2 / 31.5%
70000-79999 / 1 / 46% (Pass)
Over 80000 / 1 / 30.6%

"First Impression" Survey 5/20-24/02
Response size too small to establish patterns, thus only raw data is reported here.

Sample: every Minnesota Public School Superintendent was contacted: 89% by e-mail, remainder by U.S. mail
Responses: 81 (24%), 96% by e-mail.

Number of years (in five year period 1997-Nov. 2001) in which a referendum was held (kind or amount of referendum was irrelevant):
9 - None
25 - One
35 - Two
12 - Three
0 - Four
0 - Five

Referendums reported by year (total reporting: 78):
57 - 2001
23 - 2000
19 - 1999
15 - 1998
10 - 1997

If a referendum was held in November, 2001, how did the voter turnout compare with the most recent previous referendum election?
19 - Much higher - (8 passed, 10 failed, 1 mixed)
13 - Higher - (7 passed, 5 failed, 1 mixed)
17 - About the Same - (17 passed)
9 - Lower - (5 passed, 4 failed)
1 - Much Lower - (1 passed)

Additional comments from respondents, as received about the WHY of 2001:

Failed, higher than previous turnout: "Radio ads and general perception that District was asking for too much"

Passed, similar turnout to previous: "Even with increase for levy, taxes went down [while] neighboring districts went up".

Passed, higher than previous: "Had it not been for tax relief it would not have passed."

Passed, much higher than previous: "We had a heated mayors race".

Passed, about the same as previous: "Information given to public in easy to understand format, community members help in with getting the message out, we live in a pro-education town."

Failed, much higher than previous: "Mistrust of district by going into Statutory Operating Debt"

Passed, about the same as previous: "We try to do an ongoing dialogue with our patrons to let them know the ups and downs of our district. The local newspaper is a great help. They have had high respect and trust for the board members and administrators."

Passed, much higher than previous: "Public informed. We really got our information out to people."

Passed, lower than previous: "Voters understood the financial needs of the school district."

Passed, much higher than previous: "We did a good job of selling the idea that the money was needed - the people indicated they wanted to keep their school. We passed our referendum with an 83% positive vote."

Failed, higher than previous: "Large voter turnout was due to negative regional mailing from anti-tax lobby group. Difficult for voters to understand need for $$ when a new facility has just been completed; lack of trust from final years of previous administration, even if undeserved."

Passed, about the same as previous: "Community support for school is great."

Passed, higher than previous: "Jesse, Taxpayers League, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce (negative info)."

Failed, higher than previous: "Confusion over impact of property tax change."

Passed, about the same as previous: "The people here trust us"

Failed, higher than previous: "local/state publicity".

Failed, much higher than previous: "Voters have a hard time distinguishing between bonds and levies; Gov. Ventura made very negative statements about school levies; Taxpayers League challenged us in court; Short timeline between extended legislative session and Fall election; due to construction problems, we were unable to open one of our high schools on time; lack of parent and staff energy to work the fundamentals of a successful campaign."

Passed, about the same as previous: "Public happy with the current school system."

Failed, higher than previous: "Anti-growth factor in community and an anti-tax attitude in general."

Failed, much higher than previous: "Governor specifically attacked us, Minnesota Taxpayer League info on "great tax grab of 2001"; remarks of political candidate about proposed levy; frivolous lawsuit against another neighboring district about misuse of funds; confusion about impact of General Fund tax takeover in combination with new levy; growing distrust of institution."

Passed, much higher than previous: "The basic educational formulas approved by the Minnesota legislature have not kept pace with the educational needs of communities throughout Minnesota. Equalization of referendum revenue has created an opportunity for low property value districts like [ourselves] to access a portion of referendum revenue. The opportunity is particularly unique because a portion of the referendum revenue may be used to offset un-equalized portions of the levy. This would result in additional general education revenue to the district without any increase in property taxes."

Failed, lower than previous: "Campaign not as strong, community apathy, too close to previous levy (1999), unclear about needs, confusion in voters minds about an increase that would be a decrease, lack of county data to be able to give exact tax impact, previous district financial problems."

Failed, higher than previous: "State budget forecast, unknown levy"

Mixed, much higher than previous: "Our turnout was much higher than expected for two reasons: 1) tax increase involved; 2) great deal of negative coverage on radio talk shows."

Passed, lower than previous: "The amount in 2001 and the impact on the local property owners were far less than previous election questions. I also think they understood the previous referendum was rolled into general formula and off the property tax, thus the new effort was still a significant decrease."

Passed, about the same as previous: "We have a fairly consistent voter turnout for all of our elections depending on whether they are even or odd year election. The "Vote Yes" committee did a much better job of marketing the bond issue than we did in 2000."

Passed, lower than previous: "It was not an election year so the voter turnout was lower in our district."

Failed, much higher than previous: "Statewide and local coverage by media of negative opinions of legislature and education watchdog groups. We did not do good job of explaining why money was needed - what would need to be cut if levy failed."

Passed, much higher than previous: "Good public info, good support for the school system within the District, concerns about change that might be required if referendum did not succeed."

Copyright 2002
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Original art by Marie Thielen