Anticipation grew leading up to the Spring Election Tuesday as the Turtle Lake School District was asking district voters to approve a 5-year, $5.5-million non-recurring referendum to exceed state-imposed revenue limits for operational purposes of the school. And in relatively high numbers, voters went to the polls and by a nearly 2-1 vote approved the school’s request.
Nearly 600 voters throughout the Turtle Lake School District cast their ballots, with 392 voting yes and 195 voting no. The largest turnout was in the Town of Almena were voters approved the referendum 94 to 61. In the Village of Turtle Lake voters cast 91 yes and 28 no. The Polk County portion of school district voters followed suit, approving the request by a 141-75 margin, as did Barron County voters, 251-120.
While the school has had to deal with a broken state funding package, forcing nearly every school in the state to go to periodical referendums, they have been able to drop the mill rate from 10.45 in 2017 to a historic low of 7.42 in 2021. In fact, it is projected the mill rate will be lower during the first two years of the new referendum, 6.88 the first year and 7.31 the second. They are projected to rise in the final three years to a high of 8.34, but that is still lower than the 8.88 in 2020.
A race for the Turtle Lake School Board was also on the ballot. Incumbent Kevin Jansen elected not to run this year, opening up one seat. Trever Miller, the lone candidate on the ballot, was elected to the school board by a 528-7 margin. District residents in Barron County were 338-2 for Miller while Polk County district residents cast 190 for with only 5 write-ins.
In the Turtle Lake Village Board race incumbent Ruth Morton was the lone candidate on the ballot, gathering 115 votes. Incumbents Isac Schreiber and Pat McCready were write-in candidates with Schreiber getting 14 votes and McCready 6.