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Pipestone Area Schools operating levy increase rejected by one vote

PIPESTONE — One vote made all the difference in yesterday’s Pipestone Area School District 2689 election.

Voters rejected the district’s proposal to increase its per-pupil operating levy by $250 by a vote of 712 to 711. If voters had authorized the increase, the district’s per pupil operating levy would have been bumped to $1,448.26 per pupil when combined with an allotment not required by voter approval.

However, voters did elect to renew the school’s current per pupil operating levy of $474.26 per pupil, which will bring the total to $1,198.26 per pupil when combined with the other allotment not required by voter approval.

According to Pipestone Area Schools Superintendent Kevin Enerson, a recount is still possible. That won’t be determined until Nov. 16, the date the board is expected to certify the election.

At that time, an eligible voter would have to petition for a recount by getting 25 signatures and presenting that to the school board, Enerson said.

“If we do get a request for a recount, then we would begin the process and follow state statutes that outline the recount process,” he said.

Because the vote is close enough, the school would be required to pay for the recount.

If a recount is called, a new canvassing board consisting of the clerk of the school board, another board member, the Pipestone County auditor, the Pipestone County court administrator and a mayor of any city within the school district would be created.

That canvassing board would oversee new election judges for the recount. The canvassing board would also be responsible for certifying the election after the recount.

Enerson said the district was asking for an increase in its per-pupil operating levy in order to help fund a second social worker, police resource officers, career and technical programs and provide preschool to all 4-year-olds in the district.

Enerson said the board will likely continue to pursue those student supports when it begins its budget process in January.

“I think a lot of those things are priorities, so we have to see what makes sense and what we want to do with our education program,” Enerson said. “We would not have those dollars as part of our budget planning.”