Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a drop in school enrollment could trigger a corresponding drop in expenditures. We all wish it would be as easy as a recent writer to Open Forum suggests. Sadly, it doesn’t work in the world of education or any other venue. Our family of five has shrunk to a family of two with our children out of the house. We had big plans for the money we would save by reducing our household by 60 percent. However, just like the school district, the drop in population was swallowed up by the ever-increasing cost of living.
In our house and in the school, fixed costs don’t shrink just because there are less people. We are impressed that the Brainerd schools have managed expenses in the face of sustained inflation. District 181 expenses have increased 1.15 percent a year over the last decade while inflation has increased more than twice that amount. Increased fuel, food, heat and supplies continue to climb. Every business has a certain amount of fixed and variable costs and our school district is no different.
The easiest thing to do is to slash an already lean educational budget in the Brainerd schools. But it is not the right thing to do. My grandparents, Elmer and Mabel Meyer of Brainerd, raised four children in the great Depression on a modest car mechanic salary. They scrimped to support their family and cut every way they could. One expense was non-negotiable and that was education.
Almost 50 years ago, my grandparents voted yes to raise their taxes to build a brand new high school in Brainerd. With a sixth grade education, they understood what was really important in life for children of that time and future generations.
BOB NYSTROM is a former Brainerd School Board member.