The Brainerd School District is now making its most important decision since I was elected to the board in 1989. The voters of this district will decide if we can maintain the excellence our schools are known for. The Brainerd School District has a reputation for high standards, not only in Minnesota, but nationally, and have won awards too numerous to mention.
As a graduate of Brainerd High School, I received an excellent education, for 1971. Times have changed; our students are now competing in a global economy. The Brainerd lakes area economic vitality depends upon a competitive, diverse and productive work force. The children we educate today are our future leaders, educators, and work force.
A strong school district attracts new businesses to the area and helps maintain a healthy tax base that benefits the entire community. The Brainerd Lakes Chambers board has publicly supported the referendum. As Lisa Paxton said, It is a cost to businesses, but it is more expensive to not support it. The economic impact to this area is substantial. We have $49 million in annual payroll dollars, an additional $6 - 9 million in supplies and transportation purchases, amounting to a total annual local economic impact of $98 million.
We have had inadequate, unstable funding from the Legislature. The district budget has decreased over the past 4 years, but the Legislature has shifted more of the burden back to the property owner. If the referendum fails, we will have to make cuts of over $5 million next year. We want voters to make an informed decision regarding these proposed cuts. As a business owner and taxpayer myself, I feel our schools are worth the investment. If you want to maintain the excellence our school district is known for, please vote yes on the referendum.
Ruth Ann Gmeinder
Brainerd School Board member
Co-Owner Gull Lake Resort
Schools bear burden of tax anger
The referendum concept is unfair to the schools. We rarely get the chance to vote on our tax burdens created by other government services (such as law enforcement, fire protection and the like), and because schools are so commonly forced into referendum situations, an angry public may vote no on a school referendum, simply because they have this one way to object to our tax system.
Mr. Begin is right. We did not get to vote on the county jail and the tax load it created. It is rare that a government agency comes to us in such a capacity. The more frequent school referendum votes, therefore, become lightning rods of the angry voter as a protest against a tax system that is overly bureaucratic and less sensitive to the communities they serve.
It is the responsibility of all the voters to make their feelings known. Just make sure it goes to the proper place. We need to support our schools and our kids with a yes vote on the referendum questions coming before us, and then we need to let the state and federal decision makers know that we are tired of their tax policies. Do both, and our entire community will benefit. That anger belongs with your state and federal law makers, not at the feet of our kids.
Charles L. Johnson
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