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Stewartville Public Schools stays the course on referendum despite public discouragement from mayor

If approved, the referendum would fund various projects, including the construction of a new building that would serve as a space for community education and preschool.

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Stewartville Public Schools is asking voters to approve a referendum of more than $30 million. Among other projects, the referendum would pay for the construction of a new preschool. Currently, the preschool program is housed in the district's aging central office building.
Jordan Shearer / Post Bulletin
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STEWARTVILLE — In spite of some discouragement from the city’s mayor about the proposed referendum, Stewartville Public Schools is trying to focus on educating the voting public about the options on the upcoming ballot.

The school district is asking voters to approve a referendum of $38.5 million. It would fund various projects, including the construction of a new building that would serve as a space for community education and preschool.

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Stewartville Mayor Jimmie-John King spoke out against the proposed referendum during one of the school district’s information meetings. According to the Stewartville Star, King voiced concern about how he thinks it is a bad time to ask taxpayers to pay more.

“You couldn’t pick a worse time for a referendum,” the Stewartville Star reported King as saying.

King did not respond to multiple messages asking for further comment from the Post Bulletin.

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Stewartville Public Schools Superintendent Belinda Selfors says the district will instead focus on what is within its control despite what has been said about the project.

"I've been focusing on what our needs are, why we have these needs at this time, and what it is we are seeking voter approval on," Selfors said. "That's been the direction I've taken instead of getting into who's right or who's wrong."

Jimmie-John King
Jimmie-John King.

The school district has held eight information sessions to help inform the public about the needs of the district and how the referendum would help address those needs.

The district also has published information on its website and through its social media channels. Selfors also has written editorials about the project in the Stewartville Star.

"We've done as much as we can to make sure the information is out there so people can make an informed choice on Aug. 9," Selfors said. "That's really the only role we can have. We can't promote a vote one way or the other. All we can do is inform and educate, state the facts as they are, and then have people make an informed decision."

Jordan Shearer covers K-12 education for the Post Bulletin. A Rochester native, he graduated from Bemidji State University in 2013 before heading out to write for a small newsroom in the boonies of western Nebraska. Bringing things full circle, he returned to Rochester in 2020 just shy of a decade after leaving. Readers can reach Jordan at 507-285-7710 or jshearer@postbulletin.com.
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