More than 60% of Lakeville voters approved the city's park referendum Tuesday. The measure will fund $17 million for construction at Avonlea Community Park, add amenities to East Community Park, improve Antlers Community Park and update the environmental learning center at Ritter Farm Park. A new covered, outdoor ice rink would also be built adjacent to Hasse Arena.
Lakeville last passed a referendum for parks in 1994, said City Council Member Luke Hellier. Since then the city's population has more than doubled to nearly 70,000. The funding "touches every corner of the city," he said. "It really is going to enhance our already solid system."
Sixteen candidates were on the ballot for three school board seats in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan district. By mid-evening, the top three candidates were running neck and neck: Sakawdin Mohamed, a state employee; Bianca Virnig, who works for an educational cooperative; and incumbent Art Coulson, who is employed by the Department of Human Services. Several candidates had said they ran to have a say on controversies such as teaching about equity and the district's handling of COVID-19 and its mask mandate this fall.
In the Shakopee school district, the only one in the metro area that doesn't have a levy to help cover operating costs, voters were to decide on two levy questions. Election results weren't available at press time.
The first would generate about $7.5 million annually over 10 years to rehire 43 teachers, reduce class sizes and restore programs such as fifth-grade band. The second question, which is contingent on approval of the first, would bring in about $3.5 million per year for 10 years to reduce class sizes, increase fine arts offerings and provide raises for teachers and support staff.
The district's bid for operating levy funding failed last year, spurring $7.45 million in budget cuts, said spokeswoman Tiffany Olson. More reductions will be needed if this one doesn't pass, she said.