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DULUTH - A $52 million Duluth Public Schools technology levy failed for a second time this school year, after voters rejected it by a narrow margin in a Tuesday special election.

Voters were asked to approve more than $5 million annually for the next decade to pay for a range of technology-related expenses, including curriculum and devices, cybersecurity and career and technical education equipment. The measure failed by about 450 votes, with 20% of eligible voters weighing in. Last fall, the margin was even slimmer.

"It's not the outcome we hoped for," Superintendent John Magas said in a news release. "We have some difficult decisions ahead, but our commitment to finding the best solutions for our students is unchanged."

Magas said earlier this year he anticipates cuts to employees and programs next year without more money to dedicate to an increasingly critical aspect of education.

This time they had planned to shift more potential money to career and technical education, a growing sector in Duluth schools that suffers from antiquated equipment, and engineering programs, among others.

The money would have allowed the district to replace as needed its more than 8,000 devices for student learning, including Chromebooks and iPads, along with outdated smart boards and software. It would have strengthened cyber and building security and improved staff technology training, along with replacing trade class equipment.

"The reality is that these investments are still needed if we are to give our teachers the tools they need to fully prepare students for success," School Board Chair Jill Lofald said in the release.

Voters did approve a smaller schools request last fall on the two-question ballot.