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Happy anniversary, District 833 referendum

Happy birthday to the South Washington County Schools referendum.

At a Nov. 3 meeting, District 833 School Board member Michelle Witte noted that it's been a year since the voters came through for the district.

"Thanks voters again for their support," Witte said. "In reflection I'm just really humbled by all that's happened — our ability to keep all our curriculum alive and vital, and offer equity and payment for a lot of our employee groups, being able to have a balanced budget, and be able to have our capital project come in under what we told our voters it would. So I'm very proud of all those accomplishments and really thank the community for their ongoing support of kids in our district."

On Nov. 3, 2015, voters chose to implement a $10.3 million operating levy increase a $96 million bond measure by the narrowest of margins to fund construction of a new middle school and other building upgrades that address space constraints in a growing area of the school district. A third ballot measure seeking $46.5 million in bonds for high school and elementary school additions and improvements failed.

Approval of the first question on the 2015 ballot helped the School Board avoid making $7.6 million in budget cuts for 2016-17.

A groundbreaking ceremony recently occurred for the construction of a new Oltman Middle School in Cottage Grove, and work is progressing on design of the middle school improvements.