Eden Prairie schools got a bump in funding and the Chisholm and Cass Lake-Bena districts will see new elementary schools after voters on Tuesday backed a majority of school spending measures on state ballots.
Hawley also secured approval for a new $53 million middle school, but by just eight votes, according to unofficial returns.
Overall, the election proved a good night for districts, said Greg Abbott, a spokesman for the Minnesota School Boards Association. But he noted one school system — Staples-Motley — became the first in the state to lose a levy renewal vote.
That district has another year, however, before its voter-approved levy expires.
Voters in Chisago Lakes soundly rejected requests for additional operating and facilities improvements funding, and the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale district lost a bid to dedicate $3 million per year to technology needs.
Eden Prairie had its technology levy renewed and also received a $260-per-pupil boost in its operating levy. Superintendent Josh Swanson said the hike was needed to help offset inflationary costs as well as the subsidizing of special education and English language learner services.
For a second consecutive year, school board races saw the presence of conservative slates of candidates — this time with dozens endorsed by a new group called the Minnesota Parents Alliance. Social issues and government transparency drove debate in many races.
Alliance-endorsed candidates in four districts — Eastern Carver County, Orono, Rochester and New Ulm — had drawn media attention of late. But only one of those 13 candidates — Joe Scott of Eastern Carver County — prevailed Tuesday.
The alliance said 49 of the 119 candidates the group endorsed and listed in its online voter's guide were elected, with three slates winning three seats in the Centennial School District, which serves several Anoka County cities, and in Bemidji and Monticello.
Alliance-backed candidates were blanked in 22 school districts.
In addition to the shutouts in Orono and New Ulm, each member of multi-candidate slates in districts like Cannon Falls, Moorhead, Shakopee, St. Cloud and Stillwater also came up short, according to the group's website.
Cristine Trooien, the alliance's executive director, said in an email: "We are thrilled and very encouraged by the results," adding the candidates were qualified and hard-working, and benefited from campaign training sessions led by the group. As for the full-slate shutouts, she noted local teachers unions endorse candidates, too, and have aggressive get-out-the-vote strategies.
"We intend to take our successes from this first year and multiply it in 2023 and beyond," Trooien wrote.
Meanwhile, 71 of 116 candidates backed by a teachers union won a seat on their local school board, according to Education Minnesota spokesman Chris Williams.
"The endorsements by educators were usually a sign the candidate was focused on real challenges facing schools — like shortages of educators and mental health professionals — and favored welcoming, supportive learning environments for every student," union President Denise Specht said in a statement.