When the levy barely passed in 2001, the Willmar School District was close to cutting elementary music and art. Our three boys were little, and we would have open-enrolled them in another school district if the levy had failed, because a school without those things isn't acceptable.
The boys aren't little anymore, and in the past few years, we've been so proud talking about the school system to our friends and family. In the last year we've had athletic teams going to state, the high-placing marching band and a stellar "Les Miserables."
The administration and School Board have done an exceptional job of providing an education as well as extra-curricular activities with funding well below the state average. However, if the levy doesn't pass, all those things could disappear. If the levy doesn't pass, Willmar Public Schools will be decimated beyond recognition.
But the decimation won't merely be at the school level. It will affect the business community as well. Do you think that new employees at the college, the clinic or MinnWest will want to send their children here if the schools are terrible? The Chamber of Commerce and other civic groups have endorsed the levy because they see its importance. But if it fails, we can look at a similar system, Brainerd, for a grim cautionary tale: two schools closed, 90 employees laid off and 17 varsity sports cut.
Active in the Vote Yes Twice citizen committee, we've heard a number of people around town overestimate its cost. The committee has a Web site, www.vote-yes-twice.com, which has a tax calculator that can calculate your payment. The average homeowner in Willmar will only add about $175 per year, or $15 a month, even if both measures pass. However, it's difficult to put a tangible price on education. Aren't its benefits priceless? So please, vote yes twice, once for you and once for the students you send out into the world with wings.