La Crescent voting

Erik Daily, La Crosse Tribune Katie Novak walks over to the scanner after filling out her ballot at La Crescent-Hokah Elementary School. La Crescent-Hokah School District voters backed a new operating levy by a 2-to-1 margin.

Erik Daily, La Crosse Tribune

La Crescent-Hokah School District voters on Tuesday approved, by a 2-to-1 margin, a 10-year, $850-per-student operating levy that will bring in about $1 million annually.

The levy replaces a $235-per-pupil levy that expires in December and represents a 261.7 percent increase. The vote was 1,797 to 854. Turnout was 49.4 percent of registered voters.

School superintendent Kevin Cardille has noted the levy remains less than the state average of $879 per pupil.

Had voters turned it down, La Crescent-Hokah would have had to cut into core functions of the public schools, Cardille contended before the vote.

Last November, the district attempted to pass an operating levy during the presidential election that would have raised the current levy amount to $626.72 per student. But voters rejected the increase, leaving the district about half a million dollars short for school year, forcing the school board to make cuts and dip into reserve funds.

The new levy will raise taxes on a $100,000 home $101, according to the district's levy calculator.

The district has 1,036 students, significantly fewer than in 2001, when it had around 1,660. All AP college courses have been cut, electives have been limited and many teachers are split between teaching in the middle and high schools.

- For more on this story, check Friday's edition of the Houston County News.

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