We vote for senators and representatives, state and federal, to make decisions that impact our lives. In their budget battles year after year education has lost funding but the laws that govern how public schools must operate have increased. So though we can't vote on decisions for roads, health care, or Social Security, we have the opportunity to vote on a local property tax increase that will allow our award winning Brainerd School District to keep giving our kids/our community what they deserve - quality education.
We also voted for our Brainerd School Board and it has been making hard financial decisions for years. They have cut programs, consolidated administration and raised fees. They spent the district's savings account in order keep classroom quality, and the fine reputation that has helped bring jobs and services to our area. They have kept the neighborhood schools, the sports, and the arts but they spent the savings account in order to do that. They waited for the state and federal funds to at least keep up with inflation but that did not happen and now must go to the voters for increased local support .
We can still see our Dan leaving Whittier the last day of fifth grade with head in his backpack to hide the tears and our Jane proudly starting college with a whole semester earned from Advanced Placement classes. Now ages 29 and 25, they want all Brainerd kids to have what they had and more.
Please vote yes Nov. 6.
Cheryl and Jim Gelbmann
'Plan B' came in earlier cuts
Recently, several patrons have raised questions regarding why the district has not presented a "Plan B". It is understandable why someone would expect an alternative plan to what is being proposed. Historically, districts around the state have asked the public for what they've needed; and, if and when that request is denied, sometimes those districts have reduced their request and have gone back a second or even third time. Our board of education and this district implemented 'Plan B' by making reductions of $5 million and using an additional $5 million in fund balance prior to asking our public for support.
Therefore, a referendum is a necessary request to maintain the present quality of education in this District because the state did not provide adequate funding in the last biennium. Districts may offer a levy referendum annually and if the levy is supported, funds become available the year after the approval. If the levy on Nov. 6, is not supported, the board could choose to go back to the voters in 2008 but the funding would not be available until the fall of 2009, a full year later than needed to balance the budget. For that reason, there is no other option up for voter consideration. Either the levy is approved and we receive the funding or we are faced with making $5-plus million in reductions to balance the budget.
It is vital that we educate ourselves on the issue at hand and determine the course of public education in this community by voting.
Brainerd superintendent of schools
Independent School District 181
We will be paid back for support
The burden of education is mighty. It costs a lot to educate our population. Taxes can get quite heavy, but here's the thing. Taxes spent on education are almost guaranteed to get a lifelong return from the student as they become contributing citizens. Roads need replacing, sewers and jails and all that wear out, requiring maintenance and care. Once our taxes are spent on students, that gain appreciates in value. Of all the expenses our taxes cover, it would be difficult to find a better return than spending that money on education and our kids.
The investment we put into our schools is returned many times over as our students grow, join the work force, and become active citizens in our communities. Education is not merely job training; it is where we instill citizenship, ethics and values, as well as all those skills that are needed out there in years following public school. It is our duty to provide the best education we can.
We did not vote on a law enforcement center. We never saw ballots allowing us to vote on wars, or studies on butterfly mating habits, or space programs or paying bills for political junkets to foreign countries. We have the opportunity to ensure that our kids get the best education we can offer, despite our upper level government's bureaucratic decision making that has gotten us into this financial mess. Some of the items listed previously may not matter, but our kids do. The cost may be tough, but the return is as good as it is going to get.
Vote in favor of the school referenda in your district. The payback will be worth a lifetime.
Everyone should see Burns' series
My wife and I were watching the "Tonight Show," with Jay Leno the other night. The segment jaywalking came on and Jay was asking people on American history. I was appalled to hear the answers given on topics, like who did we fight in the second world war. The answers given were Korea and then Vietnam.
We have been watching the PBS series the war that Ken Burns, has produced. I think that all colleges and senior high students should be required to watch this series, so that they would know what freedom means. What the American people sacrificed so this world would remain free. The series is a must see for everybody, to refresh what this country is all about. The paper has not given this series the due it deserves.
Arm yourself with the facts
Recently, there have been many questions in this forum regarding the need for ISD 181's learning levy. If the writers are being sincere in their inquiries and not rhetorical, they should be pleased to learn that there are in fact, solid answers to every single question posed. If on the other hand, such questions are meant to remain unanswered, and thus serve only as indictment, the writers do a disservice to us all. On Nov. 6, we'll each be obliged to make an important decision based upon a careful (and dare I say, open-minded) assessment of the facts. But an atmosphere charged with suspicion and fear helps no one.
As an example, one of the greatest concerns is personal cost, particularly to those who believe, for whatever reason, that they cannot afford to support the levy. Yet no mention is made of Minnesota's tax refund and tax deferral resources, which exist expressly to avoid placing an unfair burden on those who truly require assistance. As citizens, each of us must pay our fair share. But no one is asking those on the economic edge to lose their homes; that's why there is help available. Yes, there are answers to the breathless questions some really don't want addressed, but such inconvenient facts make it hard to defend burdening children with our own responsibility. A good primer on the issue, as well as tax tips for homeowners is available at voteyes07.com. Even if you're undecided or opposed, you'll find straight facts, which stand up to honest scrutiny. Decide for yourself, but vote armed with facts, not fear.
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