Winona Area Public Schools' $82 million facilities referendum was rejected by residents who turned out to the polls Tuesday.
The final unofficial tally says 90.4 percent of the voters checked "No" on this year's ballot question: Should the district receive $82 million from taxpayers to consolidate its elementary schools and maintain, renovate or expand several district buildings?
Unofficially, 6,336 ballots were cast with 5,728 against and 608 for the referendum. With 21,770 registered voters eligible to vote in the special election, that's a turnout of 29.1 percent. The high turnout led to some slight delays in reporting of the results; the final polling place wasn't reported to the district office until a few minutes before midnight.
Winona Area Public Schools Superintendent Rich Dahman says, "Moving forward, our facilities, financial and educational needs aren't going away. We'll continue to have different discussions about how to meet our educational needs within the financial realities of the district."
Now, school board members must go back to the drawing board and conceive a different plan. The board has no timetable for its next attempt at a facilities overhaul, though they could bring another referendum before voters as early as next spring.