My roots go deep in the Brainerd School District. Four generations of my family have been educated in these schools starting with a one-room country school house attended by my grandmother at the turn of the century to the present with the last of my three children attending Brainerd High School. In two weeks this community will decide whether to continue the tradition of excellence we've come to expect in the Brainerd School District.
I have heard some people say that the school board should run this district "like a business." It sounds logical and has become a battle cry for those who want you to believe our current situation is a result of out of control spending. I have served on the Brainerd School Board for six years, most recently as chairman of the Finance Committee. I am a businessman and know all about revenues and expenditures and what it takes to balance the books. As a business owner, my purpose was to make a profit and I selected products, pricing and services with that goal in mind. Public schools don't have that option. We are in the business of providing quality education to all of the children in our district. When the state slashed school funding, districts all over Minnesota were faced with two choices. Districts could compromise the product, our children's education or raise revenues at a local levy.
The decision to go to the voters for a levy referendum was not made overnight. The six people on the school board who represent you have a combined 50 years of service on the board. It has been my privilege to serve with capable business people, concerned parents who have the good of all our children in mind, and even a veteran newspaper reporter who is used to facing the facts and telling it like it is. We have wrestled with this issue for four years and have come to the unanimous conclusion that we have no choice but to go to the voters. The referendum will allow us to sustain our current programs. Five million dollars has already been cut from the budget and our fund balance is exhausted. This is the end of the line.
The greatest thing a society can give its children is an education. Our school district has produced entrepreneurs and educators, actors and architects, opticians and opera singers, pilots and parents and even a governor. The children of today and tomorrow are looking to us for leadership and commitment. Don't let them down.
BOB NYSTROM is a Brainerd School Board member and a Baxter resident.
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