Minneapolis: Bates, Davis and Lee win school board seats, both referendums pass

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The unofficial tallies are in, and Jill Davis, Carla Bates, and incumbent Lydia Lee have won the three open seats on the Minneapolis Board of Education. According to Secretary of State Mark Ritchie’s official website, Lee received 22.1% of the vote, Davis received 21.1%, and Bates received 19.6%. Results for all state and local elections are available here.

Davis told the Daily Planet that she is “grateful for the opportunity and know that it’s a really big responsibility to care for our kids, but I’m excited for it!”

When the new Board of Education is seated in January of 2009, Davis said she won’t be pushing her biggest campaign issues right away. “I want to review what the progress is. Some steps have been taken to revamp some schools, and I want to review those…and look at how do we analyze what schools have and what do they need.”

The two referenda on the ballot, the “Strong Schools, Strong City” referendum and the “ABC” referendum both passed with wide margins. Nearly 71% of voters approved the additional property tax levy called for by the “Strong Schools” proposal. Almost 66% voted for the ABC referendum to change Board of Education representation from an at-large system to a mixed system with three Directors elected at-large and six elected from districts based on those for the park board. The new system will be phased in over the next two elections.

The “Strong Schools” referendum will fund the roughly $30 million gap between state aid and budget requirements, and increase per-pupil spending to $1,200 to provide funding for a number of new programs to improve early literacy, math and science education, and provide new technology and textbooks for Minneapolis Schools. Minneapolis Public Schools have projected the average voter will see their property taxes go up $17 per year to pay for the increased spending.

James Sanna is a freelance writer and an intern covering education issues for the Daily Planet.