Thank you to everyone who voted on Tuesday’s referendum. Bemidji area voters rejected the ballot question to revoke the district’s current $180 per pupil levy and replace it with a $460 per pupil levy to address its budget deficit. The measure failed on a 7,851-11,725 vote. 

The school board put forward the referendum to revoke the district’s current $180 per pupil operating levy and replace it with a $460 per pupil levy in order to avoid making cuts to programming and staff. The proposed operating levy was one step in a comprehensive plan to address the district’s financial challenges. Other steps include continued prudent spending, working with state lawmakers to fully fund public education in Minnesota and retain and attract students to the district. 

While we are disappointed in the results, we respect the community’s decision.  We went into this campaign knowing that it would be very difficult with the focus on the national and state elections, and, of course, the pandemic and the limitations created by that situation.  Now, we need to roll up our sleeves and get back to work, because we know that this community wants to support its schools.

Unfortunately, our budget issues remain unresolved. The school board will need to look for ways to stabilize our budget through budget cuts. Although the school board has made no decisions, these steps could lead to larger class sizes, reduced school supply budgets, reduced support services, fewer course options and limited participation in sports.

We will keep community members informed about the school board’s next steps. We want to thank everyone who took part in this historic election and made their voice heard. As always, if you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at or (218) 333-3100.

Tim Lutz
Superintendent, Bemidji Area Schools