"Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation." - John F. Kennedy
I can find no way to improve upon these words.
School quality was a No. 1 factor
Need a new house, car or computer? If a known and trusted local business offered to sell one having twice the quality at only one-sixth the price of a competitor's, you would be foolish not to buy it. In fact, you would be sure to support that business in the future.
That's the deal my family of five got moving to Brainerd three years ago from upstate New York. Back there, we paid $3,500 annually, for 11 years, for what we now realize was an inferior product. In Brainerd we pay only $598 and yet we enjoy a product that's clearly two or three times as good. We reap more benefits here than we ever did in New York, where that business was merely adequate.
The business I refer to is the local public school district. We moved to Minnesota to be closer to family. But when selecting our future community, the first factor considered was school quality. Impersonal scores found on the Minnesota Department of Education website told much of the story. Talking with people in Brainerd about District 181 gave those numbers some heart. The schools here far outweighed those of other Minnesota communities where we considered living.
Your schools brought us here. Now the five of us are adding back to the local economy. We bought a house that sat unsold for more than two years, shopped our mortgage, house and auto insurance locally. We buy groceries, clothing, services and entertainment here, and we joined a church.
In appreciation, we will vote Nov. 6 for the chance to pay an additional dollar a day in school property taxes. We'll do this partly because we can afford to. Mostly, though, we'll vote "Yes" because none of us can afford not to.
Quality schools didn't just happen
The letters, pro and con, concerning the school referendum have brought to my mind how people in the past have sacrificed for a good public school system.
In 1889, my Swedish immigrant grandfather donated a piece of land on his farm near Mora to build the first public school in his area. Andrew Nystrom wanted a school for his children and he also wanted to learn English. He knew if his children learned English at school, they would teach him at home (no bilingual education in those days!)
Andrew and his brother, Martin, and their neighbors worked together to build a 16 by 20 log schoolhouse, two windows on a side, with a chimney in the middle. Water came from an open well on my grandfather's farm. Andrew and Martin served as the first school board even though they couldn't speak, read or write English.
When the school opened, the first grade consisted of my father, his sister and their cousin. They graduated when they finished the third grade. In 1957, they had a reunion and all three were there along with their teacher. In those days, the teacher wasn't much older than the students and had no special certification.
If your travels take you to Mora, Minn., go to the historical society building and on the grounds you will see that 16 by 20 log school built 118 years ago by Swedish immigrants including my grandfather.
Our good public school system didn't just happen. People were willing to make a sacrifice for their children's' education. Please see it in your heart to make a sacrifice on Nov. 6 and vote yes on Brainerd's school referendum.
We've always supported our schools
We moved our family to the Brainerd area in 1964 to start a new business. Our children all graduated from Brainerd High School, and my oldest children were the first graduates of the brand new high school. All eight of my children received an excellent education from this district and went on to become successful members of society.
I have grandchildren that have graduated from this high school and now have great grandchildren currently in school. I am worried that with the proposed cuts they will not have the same quality education and opportunities the other children had.
As long as I have lived in this community, we have always supported our schools. I voted for the high school bond referendum back then and support the current one. The schools are the focal point of the entire community and are something we have been proud to be a part of. We have attended all of the athletic events for the past 40 years.
As a recently widowed person, living on a fixed income, I have read the information on the upcoming referendum. The Brainerd Dispatch has done an excellent job providing the information on the Minnesota property tax refund so it won't be such a sacrifice to the senior citizens and other needy people in the community. Please be informed about the different property tax tips. I am voting yes on the upcoming referendum, please give my great-grandchildren the same opportunity my children had.
Eileen R. Henderson
A variety of opportunities
Please look over the following list. Do you see an activity that you or a family members has attended or in which you or a family member has participated? These are currently offered at most grade levels to the students and many to the community of ISD 181. Although not a complete list, it shows the variety of opportunities available to enhance the learning experience. Throughout the year, community groups sponsor many more activities that use the school buildings and resources. Along with a strong academic program, thousands of students benefit from participation in one or more of these opportunities. Many of these activities are in jeopardy and will be cut if the referendum does not pass. Please support our schools and help maintain the high quality of academics and programs that have made our school district a vital part of the community.
Education: Community Ed. offerings, adult basic education, GED prep and testing, National Guard education and testing, summer enrichment, credit make-up course, Advanced Placement, CLEP-college level courses, Drivers Education, Family Literacy, Learning Readiness, parent advisory groups, parent teacher organizations, exchange student programs, career prep courses, Project Lead the Way, Junior Achievement.
Fine arts: Band, choir, debate, drama/plays, orchestra, speech, music lessons, Art Club, Drama Club, Mock Trial.
Sports: Power Conditioning, cheerleading, dance team, football, cross country run, soccer, swimming, tennis, volleyball, adaptive floor hockey, basketball, gymnastics, hockey, alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, wrestling, baseball, golf, softball, track, pond hockey, flag football.
Clubs and activities: Fun & Friends, CARE Team, student leaders, student council, class cabinets, D.E.C.A, Interact Club, Key Club, French Club, German Club, Spanish Club, National Honor Society, Knowledge Bowl, FFA, school patrol, peer facilitators, MN Enabl, Yellow Ribbon Youth, Student Support Group, Exchange City, yearbook, newspaper, Math League, TV productions.
Kathy Hegstrom, president
Education Minnesota Brainerd
Teacher's Local No. 697
Vote no on the referendum
The school district is desperately trying to pass the levy for higher taxes that will give them over $5 million dollars for next year and continuing with the rate of inflation for 10 years. they want it all or nothing and must feel confident in getting their wants. All the tricks of the trade including some that are downright disgusting are being used to attempt passage. They do hold somewhat of an advantage in that the majority of the reasons for passage appear on the front page of the Brainerd Dispatch and at no cost. The tactics used are legitimate and some are nothing more than intimidation and not what is expected of teachers educating children:
1. The school district called for the referendum in an off-year election when may of the voting population do not vote. Then have the entire school district employee's vote for the referendum to ensure passage. Similar tactics were used when the Forestview issue passed.
2. On the front page of the Brainerd Dispatch on the 18th of October and continuing on Page 6A was a statement by a parent that he did not appreciate teachers from Riverside School sending notes home in the children's backpacks. These notes from teachers explained the consequences for voting no on the referendum. what kind of message do children get from these actions ?
I suggest we send them a message: Vote no - too many dollars.
Keep the lights burning brightly
And so the light of a generation passes to another. We look forward to the new and rising sun, hoping it shines brighter for our children and still brighter for theirs. Above all, however, the light of knowledge must shine brightly forth to illuminate the path of progress. Yet such a path cannot be found if we first fail to turn on the lights in our schools.
Some speak of Forestview as a despicable building of frivolity and waste. There is, however, no saving, no investment, and no foresight when such thinking rules the day. And what is opposition to the referendum, other than deference to the balance of our savings accounts? We quickly forget the nature of investment, Forestview standing as a shining example. How spending on a school is wasteful, when operation of that school per student is two-thirds that of the high school, is beyond me.
Truly, if Forestview were never built, our problems would still remain, only two-fold larger now and 10-fold larger a decade from now. We are quick to misunderstand Forestview, and yearn to pour our money much more quickly into inefficient buildings such as Washington and Franklin, only in an effort to invest the blame and, therefore, the responsibility in someone else. But such an investment is in vain.
Rather, we must now invest in that of which our returns are certain and large - our future. We engage our problems now, lest they become any bigger or those who follow after us have to deal with them. When we cling to the past and what is now, there is no hope for the future and what could be. So we choose to keep the lights burning brightly for a new generation.
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