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School District 622 sees first levy increase since 2002
Incumbent board members all re-elected
In District 622 the faces on the board of education will remain the same, but new funds are expected to invigorate school programs.
All the school board incumbents were re-elected Nov. 8, and voters approved the property-tax referendum to increase the district's current operating levy.
School District 622 includes all or part of seven communities in the east metro area: North St. Paul, Maplewood, Oakdale, Lake Elmo, Landfall, Pine Springs and Woodbury.
Over the 33 precincts within the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District, 54.5 percent of the votes were in support of the funding request to increase the operating levy by $630 per student for 10 years, adjusted annually for inflation. About 45.5 percent of residents voted against the referendum.
The average home in District 622 is valued at $190,000 and will see a projected $15.60 monthly increase in its property taxes.
District administrators said the increased funding will go towards maintaining existing academic programs, support for struggling students, improved student and school safety and expanded accelerated-learning opportunities.
This is the first time School District 622 voters have increased the operating levy since 2002. Even with the increase, District 622's operating levy will still be lower than the average of the Twin Cities' 20 largest school districts.
"We are very grateful to our community for their support of our nearly 11,000 students and 1,500 staff," said Superintendent Christine Osorio in a statement.
"Increased funding will enable us to invest in academic programs that work for students at all levels. We will work hard to stretch these dollars as far as we can to meet our students' broad range of needs."
District 622 residents were able to vote for four candidates in the school board elections.
Nancy Livingston, 67, received the strongest support for re-election. She is a North St. Paul resident who has served on the board for the past 16 years, and on Election Day she garnered 17.87 percent of the votes.
Livingston works full time for the Minnesota Senate as committee administrator for the Senate Education Committee. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota.
Livingston describes herself as a mom and grandma with a passion for public education. She noted before the election that she plans to step-up communication with the community.
Theresa Augé, 58, won 16.34 percent of the votes. She is an Oakdale resident and like Livingston, she has a long history on the school board. Augé has already served 12 years on the board.
Augé said before the election that one of her priorities next term will be to raise awareness of the importance of public schools. She added that she believes that the education within the district must prepare students for an ever-changing world and must be competitive with other districts.
Augé, who has experience as an educator, mentor, coach and education advocate, works full time at the Center for Diagnostic Imaging as a radiology professional.
Steve Hunt, 64, was re-elected after serving eight years on the board. Hunt received 14.6 percent of the votes.
Hunt said he will prioritize transparency in education and finance. He added that he would also prioritize public engagement in policy.
Hunt lives in North St. Paul with his diverse family and works full time as a field representative for SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. He has two children still attending schools in the district.
With only 336 fewer votes than Hunt, Becky Neve, 44, was elected to continue serving on the District 622 board. She received 14.2 percent of the votes, and has only been on the school board for four years.
Neve received just 588 more votes than challenger Crystal Coleman.
Neve lives in Maplewood and works as a full time nurse reviewer for State Farm Insurance. Neve said that she has served the district in various capacities, and she sees financial resources and raising student achievement to be the top challenges the district continues to face.
The four incumbents competed in a pool of seven candidates. Coleman received 13.5 percent of the votes, Danny Porter received 11.6 percent, Richard Bennett received 11.23 percent and write-in candidates received .65 percent.
Aundrea Kinney can be reaches at 651-748-7822 or email@example.com.