Letter to the editor: Support your school, your kidsSome conversation in our community suggests that the school board is at fault for the issues facing our school district – namely the budget deficit and resulting consequences.
Some conversation in our community suggests that the school board is at fault for the issues facing our school district – namely the budget deficit and resulting consequences. If fault must be placed, let’s please recognize that our board consists of elected members of our community. They are us. We are responsible.
Placing blame elsewhere doesn’t solve our problem. I propose we face this problem head on as a unified force searching for solutions rather than people to blame. The budget issues are a result of rising expenses paired with an income that we have yet to raise. As we work together let’s consider the following:
The Lake Superior School District is on a fixed income imposed by the state and our local community. That income is in jeopardy of being decreased while the costs of services, supplies and maintenance continue to increase. Of Minnesota’s 338 school districts, almost all have an operating levy in place. Only 10 have no operating levy. The average operating levy is $843 per pupil. Ely has an operating levy more than $1,000 per pupil. The proposed $550 levy will raise our property taxes (assuming a property value of $100,000) by less than $8 per month. We cannot continue to ignore the fact that our schools cannot operate without our support.
Our school district has dramatically reduced expenses the past four years. The list is too long to include here. Ask school administrators or school board members for a list if you like. Included are the elimination of 25 jobs, a 25 percent reduction in energy consumption, salary freezes for all employees for two years, and more. In addition, learning materials for our students continue to degrade, busses need to be replaced, and key learning opportunities cannot be funded. We cannot continue to ignore the fact that our schools have made severe cuts already without our support.
Voting yes for the $550 levy will help to solve our initial issues. If we fail to pass this levy, we are left with few apparent choices except to reduce support of sports, cut opportunities in the performing arts, eliminate some community education, or move to a four-day school week. Giving our children less than what we had is never the right answer.
This is a community issue. Our schools build and sustain community. It is not a school board or school administration or student issue. What we choose as individuals to not pay now, our community will pay later. We will pay it through loss of community pride, reduced volunteerism, a weaker business climate, and more. We cannot continue to ignore the fact that our community is at stake here and it needs our support.
Some folks are concerned that the levy will not pass because there are not enough people who support our community. I am convinced otherwise. I believe that our community is made up of very proud people. We are proud of where we have come from and what we have achieved. I am unwilling to concede because of a few misguided conversations. I know that supporting our children is a yes vote for a positive future. Join me. Support our community.
From Joe Walewski