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Referendum 2021 results: Community supports continued investment in schools; elects new board members

(11/02/21) The results are in, and Anoka-Hennepin voters have weighed in on the three referendum questions on this year’s election ballot.

  • Voters approved question one with 16,335 yes votes — 60.76% of the vote — while 10,549 people voted no on the question, which was 39.24% of the vote. Question one was an operating levy renewal and asked voters to consider renewing 9.3% of the school district’s general budget, or $34.5 million annually, to maintain instruction and instructional support, transportation and pupil support, school building operations, school and district administration.
  • Voters also approved question two with 16,127 yes votes, or 59.96% of the vote. Some 10,768 people voted no, or 40.04% of the votes cast. Question two asked voters to consider renewing a capital projects levy equal to $4.5 million in annual funding used to provide technology to support learning in the classroom.
  • Lastly, voters rejected question three with 14,654 no votes, or 54.53% of the vote. Some 12,219 people voted yes, or 45.47% of the votes cast. Question three asked voters to consider a new operating levy equal to $11 million in annual funding beginning in 2023. Funding would provide budget stability and extend services provided through one-time federal funding for mental health, social-emotional and academic support in response to the pandemic.

“We are thrilled to see the community’s continued investment for our schools,” said Superintendent David Law. “We realize that the voters have determined that it was not the time for question three. The School Board will need to evaluate options and have additional discussion on how to address the needs in our system for student support.”

Referendum 2021 was proposed after planning and research obtained from two community surveys over the past year to inform the needs of students in the school district. The approval of questions 1 and 2 ensures stability in school district programming going forward.

Last school year, schools received one-time federal funding to provide mental health, social-emotional and academic support for students in response to the pandemic. By 2023, that one-time federal funding will be expended. If question 3 had been approved, Anoka-Hennepin Schools would have maintained the funding necessary to provide additional social emotional and mental health resources and additional academic interventions to support students performing below grade level into the next ten years. As a result, these new programs to support students will likely be discontinued for the 2023-24 school year. Funding from this question would have also provided additional stability for district services.

“We plan carefully and monitor the district to ensure the programs we add can be maintained,” Law said. “In the community surveys that we conduct annually, we have seen a trend over the past five years with there being a growing need for mental health support in our communities, but ultimately the community as a whole has to agree. Minnesota allows voters to have their say, and we appreciate that voters took the time to participate in this year’s referendum election.”

School Board election results

Two new members will fill three seats on the Anoka-Hennepin School Board which were up for election this year in districts three, four and six. Community members living within these districts had a chance to vote Nov. 2.

Results obtained on election night are unofficial and may be adjusted in the days following the election. Results become official when approved by the Canvassing Board. The Canvassing Board meeting for the Anoka-Hennepin School District is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at Sandburg Education Center, 1902 Second Ave., Anoka.

Unofficial election results, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State website, are as follows:

  • In district three, which represents Champlin and the portions of Dayton within the district, plus the northwest section of Coon Rapids, incumbent Bill Harvey received 2,062 votes, and challenger Kacy Deschene received 2,224 votes.
  • In district four, which includes the portions of Nowthen, Ham Lake and Oak Grove located within the district, plus a large share of Andover and the northeastern section of Ramsey, Matt Audette received 5,371 votes, while Dave Dirkswager received 2,620 votes.
  • In district six, which represents northern Coon Rapids and southern Andover, incumbent Jeff Simon received 2,201 votes, while challenger Jill Bornes received 1,416 votes.

Anoka-Hennepin School Board members serve a four-year term. Maps showing election districts are available on the Anoka-Hennepin School District website. Voters may visit the Anoka County elections website for more information, Specific questions may be directed via email to or by phone at 763-324-1300.

The Anoka-Hennepin School District is one of Minnesota's largest, serving approximately 38,000 students and 248,000 residents. Spread out across 172 square miles, the district is made of 13 suburban communities north of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Anoka-Hennepin has 26 elementary schools, six middle schools (grades six through eight), and five high schools, plus alternative middle and high school sites, in addition to Community Education programs.