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Voters say yes but school referendum fails

Although the Polo School District voters overwhelmingly supported a referendum Tuesday, the measure still failed because it lacked the necessary two-thirds majority for passage.

“We came pretty close. If it was anything else it would be a landslide,” Superintendent Chris Rademacher said.

The referendum to elect school board members at large, rather than restricted by where they live, was approved by 65.96 percent of voters, falling less than one percent short of the 66.67 percent required by state law.

Overall 911 people voted yes and 470 voted no. 

Currently, no more than three school board members can reside in the same congressional township. The rejection of the referendum means that restriction will continue.

The restriction means in several recent election, the candidates who got the most votes could not be seated on the board.

Another complicating factor in the current system is that congressional township boundaries are not always the same as the geographical townships.

In this case, congressional Buffalo Township includes the northern third of geographical Woosung Township.

One township made all the difference in Tuesday’s election results, Rademacher said.

According to the state statute, he said, if it fails in one township, the two-thirds, or 66.67, percent majority is required.

In this case it failed only in Palmyra Township in Lee County, where voters turned it down 10-5.

The results in the other eight townships are as follows:

• Brookville — 18 yes to 15 no;

• Buffalo — 513 yes to 232 no;

• Eagle Point — 54 yes to 38 no;

• Grand Detour — 5 yes to 2 no;

• Lincoln — 58 yes to 50 no;

• Pine Creek — 45 yes to 38 no;

• Woosung — 92 yes to 44 no;

• Jordan (Whiteside County) — 6 yes to 4 no;

This is the third time the referendum has failed.

“I would have liked for it to pass, but there are some positives,” Rademacher said. “Last time it failed in five townships, and this time it only failed in one. We’ll continue to try to get the best people we can to run for the board.”

The next school board election is April 2, 2019.

The same referendum failed in 2007, when it had to pass in all nine townships to be approved, but failed in five of them for a total tally of 243 noes to 209 yeses.

By 2016, state laws had changed to require that to pass, it needed a two-thirds, or 66.67 percent, majority overall.

That time the referendum was approved 1,149 to 704, but still failed because it is was only a 62 percent majority.