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Voters say build a new high school

Perham-Dent Superintendent Mitch Anderson goes over the numbers as Sun Von Ruden, school board president looks on. Question 1 authorizing a new high school and renovations to the middle and elementary schools passed 2169 to 2080 Tuesday. Question 2 authorizing an auditorium at the new high school failed 1966 to 2265.

The Perham-Dent School board and Superintendent Mitch Anderson will be a new kind of busy in the next few weeks, months and years with the passage of question one on today’s school referendum.

Moments after the tally was checked and double-checked, Anderson admitted he was still a little shaky, but the relief and excitement was evident in his face.

“We knew it would be extremely close,” he said. “But people saw the need.”

Question one addressing the building of a new high school and renovations at Prairie Wind Middle  School and Heart of the Lakes Elementary passed 2,169 to 2,080, a plus 89 votes in favor. Question two asking voters to approve construction of an auditorium at the new high school failed 1,966 in favor to 2,265 opposed, a difference of 299 votes.

Despite the loss of the auditorium, the general sense of the group gathered to hear the results of the vote was elation.

“Thank God we don’t have to do that again,” said Sue Von Ruden, school board president, summing up the roller coaster ride the board and district officials experienced the past six months and today as they attempted to come up with a plan that voters would pass.

“The community came together, were well-informed and the majority agreed it was the right thing to do,” said Von Ruden. “It’s huge for the community, and not just Perham, but the larger community – Richville, Dent, Ottertail. It’s best for the students. I’m so excited for the kids.”

Anderson and the board will now be busy as they begin the design phase on the high school, which he said could take nine to 10 months , then a couple years to build. The middle school and elementary school projects can begin sooner, he said, to alleviate the crowding, adding those students could be in their “new” school environment perhaps as early as Christmas 2016.

Pick up the next edition of the Perham Focus  to learn what the next steps are and how the district and school board will proceed.

The numbers

Question One:

Perham – 1355 yes to 986 no

Dent – 314 yes to 624 no

Ottertail – 117 yes to 242 no

Absentee ballots – 383 yes to 228 no

Question Two:

Perham – 1213 yes to 1115 no

Dent – 278 yes to 659 no

Ottertail – 110 yes to 249 no

Absentee – 365 yes to 242 no

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