By WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A referendum that would have significantly boosted spending per pupil in a minority-majority southern Minnesota school district has failed.

Voters in Austin did not approve an operaterating referendum that would have lifted spending per student from $42 to nearly $550. According to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office, 966 voters approved the referendum while 1,018 voted against it. The results are with 100% of the precincts reporting as of Wednesday morning.

District officials said before Election Day that if the referendum were to fail it would mean a likely increase in class sizes and cuts to English language instructors and programs.

Austin has seen its enrollment grow by about 1,000 students over the last decade. Many of those students come from immigrant families who’ve found work in the city’s packing plants.

The last time an operating referendum passed in Austin was in 2003. The Minnesota state average operating referendum is currently about $1,000 per student, district officials say.

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