If there were still any doubters of the financial challenges faced by the Brainerd School District Tuesday's announcement of the specific sports and activities that are tentatively proposed to be cut should have provided a jolt of reality.
Yes, the funding shortfall is real. No, the Brainerd School Board wasn't crying wolf before last fall's referendum.
Last Sunday we used this space to praise the fundraising efforts of the volunteers who are concerned about the possible elimination of sports and other activities. Warrior Way Inc. needs to raise an additional $100,000 between now and April 2. The Dispatch will also continue to donate advertising space to this cause with a form informing those who are interested in donating where they can send the money. Eight additional advertisements are scheduled to run between mid-March and the end of the month.
While we hope the fundraising effort is successful, school district residents should keep in mind that this worthwhile endeavor is a strictly a Band-Aid approach rather than a long-term solution.
Minnesota's school districts will never thrive if they're continually relying on referendums and property taxes to fund education. State income taxes, unlike property taxes, are based on one's ability to pay. This is the proper source for the constitutionally mandated support of education. The Legislature and the governor share the responsibility to provide adequate funding for our schools. Their failure to commit to a funding formula that gives schools sufficient money must be addressed.
Minnesota is in danger of dividing its school districts into distinct categories of haves and have-nots. Our school children deserve a solid, basic education that's the same anywhere in the state - whether it's Baudette, Brainerd or Bloomington. The wealth of a particular school district shouldn't be what determines the quality of a student's education.
April 1 is the day for all those who are dissatisfied with the current situation to voice their displeasure to lawmakers and the governor. A nonpartisan group called Save our Schools is organizing bus transportation to the state Capitol on that day to call on officials to fix the education funding system.
This is a field trip we heartily endorsed in January and now that the specifics are available we strongly encourage concerned residents to e-mail Anne Holub at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Jenny Holmes, Brainerd School District communications coordinator, at 454-6927 to sign up for the trip to the Capitol.
If supporters of Brainerd High School's football team can fill about two dozen buses for a semifinal football game there's no reason an equal number can't be filled to call for adequate education funding. And, since this problem is in no way unique to Brainerd we'd encourage citizens from the 99 school districts that had to beg for money last fall - particularly the Crosby-Ironton and the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley school Districts - to join Brainerd's Save Our Schools rally.
If this problem is going to be fixed the state Capitol is the place where changes have to be made. It's no April Fools' Day joke. April 1 is the day to show your support for our schools at the state Capitol.
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