In the weeks following the Nov. 6 levy referendum failure, a challenge was set forth to various facets of our community. "The Challenge" was publicized in the Brainerd Dispatch as well as on our District Web site encouraging our community to work toward meaningful solutions.
Within that challenge, was a message to our teachers and staff to remain focused on our students - our primary mission. I want to thank those individuals for their dedication in remaining focused on the delivery of teaching and learning in the midst of major changes in teaching assignments and in reduction of staffing.
To the residents of ISD 181: Thank you for participating in a lengthy focused discussion on education.
Your leadership and support means continued opportunities for the students of ISD 181. To all those participating in or supporting Warrior Way Inc and Music Matters: Congratulations! Our students are the beneficiaries of your work. More people have become increasingly involved within the last year because of the financial challenges than at any other point in my nine-year career with the district. Regardless of your vote, your voice and actions are important for the future success of education in this community.
To our business leaders and civic organizations: It is crucial we continue to explore and understand the relationship and importance of education as it relates to our business community. We need a healthy business sector as well as a healthy educational system in order to have a prosperous community. We thank the chamber for identifying and relating the needs of the business sector and the role of education in supporting those needs. The partnership with our business community and higher education (Central Lakes College) is an important one for the career development of our students and in meeting the needs of the local workforce. The Bridges Academy is a shining example of those efforts.
To our legislators: Our thanks for your continued support and understanding of the educational needs in our area. A specific thank you to local legislative representative John Ward and his leadership in supporting educational legislation.
To our students: The Warrior Way incorporates our approach to learning, relationships and actions.
Whether it is in the classroom or at commencement, it always requires the best of each of us. Please take time to thank your family and this community for the opportunities you have received in education. And then, take advantage of it by being the best you can be.
To our faith community: You have acknowledged the legal separation of church and state and yet embraced the opportunity and have come forward to meet the challenges that face our community and its young people.
To all those who voted in the referendum: We emphasized the need to set aside differences among voters; and, to a large degree, that has occurred. Given the present state funding process, it is likely that patrons will be challenged again to measure the level of educational options against financial ability to provide. At some point in the future, each of us must be accountable for understanding and voting on a level of education that can be sustained by our pocketbook and yet support a healthy community.
To our friends in the media: The issues of education continue to be one of the major focuses of this community. Congratulations on your effort. However, we must comment on a recent editorial challenging the behavior of students and telling them to model different behavior in the future. While we agree with your editorial, you at the same time have not changed your behavior, encouraging through anonymous commentary, the spread of misinformation. We ask you please heed your own editorial message. Differences of opinion among us should be recognized and promoted openly in a healthy and civil manner. It is through productive dialogue that problems are resolved.
JERRY WALSETH is retiring as Brainerd superintendent of schools on June 30 after nine years in that post.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.