To legislature and governor
You certainly must be aware of the financial difficulties and the problems being faced by our K-12 school systems across the state. To large communities this is a minor problem compared to small communities. The small community infrastructure is directly connected to our school systems. To close small schools because the state does not live up to its constitutional obligation of educating its people is absolutely criminal! Small communities struggle to keep their young people in the community by trying to create jobs and affordable housing in the area. The best drawing card a community has is to provide good schools, good teachers and good community development.
The very act of the state in not funding small schools properly is creating splits in community factions that is causing hard feelings that will eventually affect community growth and cooperation and lead to civil unrest. I have witnessed the terrific jobs that school boards are doing to be economically responsible by cutting any unnecessary spending. They can only do so much because of state mandates. There is very little fat left to be cut at most small school districts. If the state does not assume responsibility to allow schools to be funded properly, you will see many small schools close within one or two years.
This will create economic hardships in small communities that in many cases cannot be overcome. You will witness the demise of many small towns. This is a total no-win situation for everyone in the state. If you do not have the courage to do what is right, then at least pass legislation that allows school boards to directly tax its people to raise much needed revenue. If local boards are irresponsible in raising taxes, the local voters can and will vote then out.
Dennis E. Haley
Back to drawing board
Here we go again. Another Brainerd landmark in danger of being demolished. I am referring to the Franklin School. Whatever happened to remodeling, restoration and preservation? There are a lot of institutions of learning in this and other countries which are hundreds of years old, and their stewards would be mortified if it were even suggested they be replaced. Bigger and newer is not always better. I worked at the Brainerd High School shortly after it was built, and we were hard pressed to find enough wastebaskets and coffee cans to catch the drips every time it rained or the snow melted. Let's fix the plumbing and whatever else needs "fixin'" in our schools so that the space we have can be utilized and our heritage preserved. I know I'm dating myself here, but the building in which I spent my formative schools years didn't even have plumbing. Buildings don't educate our children; good, dedicated teachers do.
At a time when a lot of other school districts are laying off teachers, closing schools and dropping bus routes due to the economy, Brainerd school district taxpayers are faced with an enormous school bond referendum before the ink is even dry on the last one. The school board is asking us to take the word of one private firm and a hand-picked committee as to the condition of our school buildings and the cost of improvements/replacement.
Folks, there is a dead fish somewhere in that package. Send the school board back to the drawing board and give the voters some breathing room. Vote "no" on the school bond referendum in March.
Retha "Billie" Ross
Remember the North Stars
I would like to take a look at what the consequences would be if Bud Selig got his way, and had two major league franchises contracted. The way it looks now one of the two teams that would be contracted would be our Minnesota Twins.
Some people think we shouldn't use our tax dollars to fund a multi-million dollar sports facility, instead we should be funding more important programs. True, the state would have to take a little from everyone in the form of taxes to build a stadium. Yet, it would be a whole lot worse if our state has to start slashing programs due to the dramatic loss of revenue caused by major league's contraction of the Twins. Losing income tax paid by Twins and visiting players would cause a sharp drop in income tax revenue for the state. In addition downtown Minneapolis businesses would see a dramatic decline in revenue due to the loss of people brought downtown to watch the Twins. In the future if our state wants to bring another major league team to raise downtown revenue the state will have to pay way more, and the stadium will still be an issue.
Should we use tax dollars or shouldn't we? I can't believe we are even in this boat; one would think with what we learned in the North Stars leaving we would have learned a lesson, I guess not!
Time for support
I would like to thank the many citizens of this community who are committed to the quality education of children in our school district. The upcoming bond referendum proposal has not magically appeared overnight, but has developed over years of study of the assets and needs of Independent School District 181. The needs are many and the resources are limited. Difficult decisions have had to be made to move this district forward and I am grateful for the careful study and time that has gone into making these important decisions.
Thank you to a school board which studies the research and consistently demonstrates a belief that the needs of our students must come first. Thank you to a Citizen's Task Force that has spent hours and hours, Saturday after Saturday, studying the conditions of all our school facilities. Thank you to the hundreds and hundreds of school volunteers, who sometimes sit on the floor in our hallways, to work with children who need that extra boost of encouragement. Thank you to our teachers, support staff and administrative team, that work tirelessly to ensure all of our children work toward rigorous standards, in spite of some limitations caused by our aging facilities. Thank you to the school maintenance staff that takes tremendous pride in our buildings, maintaining them and keeping them safe for our children. Thank you to a technical staff that creatively works to troubleshoot endless problems caused by the infrastructure limitations. Most importantly, thank you to the voters of this growing area, for recognizing that this is the time to support the upcoming bond referendum.
Principal Whittier School
Many pros and cons of the proposed Brainerd school construction proposals have been presented.
So far, no one has presented a specific alternative or substitute building plan.
Alternative: Build a new K-5 elementary school (Guess where?). Put the ninth grade in the Mississippi Horizon building and use the Lincoln School as an annex to the grades 9-12 High School.
The Lincoln School parking lots and playgrounds can also be used as a much needed parking lot for the 9-12 High School.
When the Mississippi "Horizons" concept was first proposed, it was touted as an exceptional school for exceptional students -- hence the name "Horizons."
This concept has been abandoned and students are now admitted by lottery and now the Brainerd school board is proposing to "pull the plug" on it entirely.
A middle school is an arrangement of grade levels from 5-9 and is designed specifically to adjust and accommodate any combination of these grades depending on the buildings that the school district has. It has nothing to do with national trends and what other school districts are doing.
Repairs to school buildings is an on-going proposition and should be paid for from current levies.
Selling 30-year bonds for repairing buildings is a very expensive practice. In addition to the cost of repairs, 30 years of interest on them is unbelievable. The repairs may wear out before 30 years and you must pay for new repairs while you are still paying for the old ones. It is absolutely amazing that the roofs of 10 school buildings should need replacing all at once. Are they leaking? Even a new roof may leak soon after it is installed due to wind, ice and snow conditions.
It makes good sense
Vote "yes" on March 12! The building of a new middle school in Baxter makes good sense. Research supports grouping kids of this age together. One large building lends itself to efficiency; yet the pod design offers the small school within a school so the students can identify with their peers.
Education is one of the most important tools we can give our children to help them attain success in life. I hope, as a grandparent, that our grandchildren will be able to enjoy this building.
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