Get out your lifejackets, folks. You might be heading for St. Paul.
A Baxter mother is spearheading an effort, in cooperation with teachers and staff members from the Brainerd School District, to take as many Brainerd parents and interested residents down to the Capitol as possible to demonstrate to state lawmakers how what they consider inadequate state funding for education has deeply affected this community.
Anne Holub, who has two children in the school district, passed around a petition at Monday's high school listening session to gather names and contact information of parents willing to travel to St. Paul for a "Brainerd at the State Capitol Day."
This group of concerned Brainerd residents also plans to stay informed about educational issues at the state level that affect Brainerd schools and will ask to be heard or to testify during relevant legislative hearings or meetings, she said.
Since the Brainerd lakes area is well known throughout the state as a recreational area, Holub said organizers are entertaining the idea of having everyone wear lifejackets at the Capitol to create a strong visual presence.
"Because we feel our school district is sinking," Holub said in explaining the lifejackets. "For those of us who live here, we're in trouble here. When I sat in on those school board meetings after the referendum failed, I felt like I was drowning."
Holub said she and other volunteers are planning to create buttons that say "SOS" or "Save Our Schools" that Brainerd parents would wear in St. Paul that day.
A date has not been set yet, but Holub said it likely would take place during the upcoming legislative session, which begins Feb. 12. Those who wish to be added to the master list of people interested in this trip or would like to help with this effort may e-mail Holub at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While Holub isn't optimistic that Gov. Tim Pawlenty has plans for increased educational funding this year, particularly after remarks he made last week, she said Brainerd parents need to let their voices be heard in St. Paul.
"If nothing else, I think they need to feel our pain," Holub said of state lawmakers. "We're getting our message to St. Paul."
Holub asked that parents who are interested in getting involved with this issue on a state level attend the Brainerd School Board Legislative Committee meeting from 3-5 p.m. Jan. 31 at Washington Educational Services Building in Brainerd. About five or six area lawmakers will be attending this meeting, along with board members.
JODIE TWEED may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5858.
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