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Wrenshall school referendum fails

About a dozen Wrenshall Public School staff and School Board members gathered at Bricks Pub & Grub in Wrenshall to await the results of three referendum proposals to update the school facilities. Voters rejected all three proposals. (Jamey Malcomb/Pine Journal)

For the second time in less than two years, Wrenshall voters have rejected a multi-million-dollar referendum to update the facilities in the school district.

By a vote of 534 to 482, voters said no to a $13 million proposal that would have replaced the window and heating and ventilation system in the elementary wing of the school. Also proposed were a renovated science lab, a new game gym and an update to the old recreation building. The rec building would have been updated for industrial arts classes.

Other items that would have been paid for by the referendum included asbestos abatement, replacing the roof and tuckpointing on exterior brickwork.

Randall Eudy, who was elected to his first term on the school board, said the updated referendum focused on “needs, not wants,” but the changes from the $12.5 million April 2017 weren’t enough to convince voters to commit to the improvements.

“Obviously, we are very disappointed it didn’t go through,” Wrenshall Public Schools Superintendent Kim Belcastro said. “It was much closer this time around, but we are very disappointed.”

Voters also rejected two other referendum proposals. By a vote of 640 to 366, a $550,000 proposal to restore the swimming pool and locker room at the school was rejected. Voters also rejected a $1.78 million request for the renovation of classrooms, technology and infrastructure.

In addition to Eudy, Debra Washenesky was elected to her first term on the School Board and Michelle Blanchard was re-elected.

Belcastro said with two new members coming onto the five-member board, she would have to meet with the board and reassess the district’s plan of action going forward.

“It’s a time to refocus with two new board members,” Belcastro said. “I’ll continue to express the concern to get the facilities updated for the students, staff and community of Wrenshall Public Schools.”

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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