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Intermediate school, Trojan Field upgrades a no-go

Election judges Jeanene Townswick (in stars and stripes) and Corrine Mammen help voters (from left) Ray Harchanko, Pam Deuel and Gary Lindquist sign in Tuesday at the Worthington Area YMCA. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)

 WORTHINGTON — The answer to Independent School District 518’s newest building proposals is in, and it's no different than the last three.

Voters on Tuesday denied the district’s proposals to build a new intermediate school for third- through fifth-grade students and to make safety upgrades and facility improvements to Trojan Field.

According to unofficial results posted Tuesday night by the Minnesota Secretary of State, the district’s $35 million bond question for an intermediate school failed by a vote of 1,776 (no, 54 percent) to 1,506 (yes, 46 percent). The gap had closed since February’s failed $68.5 million bond proposal last February. That proposal failed by a margin of 2,198 to 1,506.

The $4 million Trojan Field request — which would have provided a near-complete overhaul of the existing field and amenities — failed by a vote of 1,889 (no, 58 percent) to 1,376 (yes, 42 percent).

Tuesday’s election saw less voter turnout than February’s special election. Of 6,575 registered voters within District 518, 3,282 cast votes on the district’s first question Tuesday. A larger registered voter number was possible, as individuals could register the day of at polling locations.

Tuesday’s voter count compares to 3,704 that voted in the February special election.

School officials react

Superintendent John Landgaard said he’s disappointed that residents did not support what he called a “compromise plan” to address the district’s space problems and classroom shortage.

“Frankly, the problem is going to get worse each year, and the solutions will become more expensive if we continue to wait,” he said. “I intend to keep working on this until we can tell every new family that moves to Worthington that we have enough space and the right kind of classrooms for their students.”

District 518 Board of Education Chair Lori Dudley echoed Landgaard’s intent to continue to search for a solution.

“Trust that (the school board) will continue to work hard to find the solution to the classroom space issue,” she said. “Meanwhile — along with the administrators, teachers and support staff — we will continue to serve the educational needs of every student to the best of our abilities.”

How the board reacts and the decisions it makes moving forward could fall on some new shoulders. The board of education will get at least one new member next year. Six candidates are vying for one of three vacant seats. Only two are incumbents. Incumbents are Lori Dudley and Mike Harberts. Non-incumbents are Adam Blume, Robert Carstensen, Tom Prins and Don Brink.

The election for the District 518 board of education is in November.

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