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Letter: A pivotal choice lies ahead

A pivotal choice challenges us: dramatically change our school district and community as we know it or continue providing our children a well-rounded education, attracting and retaining business.

On the ballot will be two questions regarding our district. The first asks to increase funding by $201.51 per student. The second asks for an increase of $374.36 per student.

By voting yes for the first question, our district will still cut approximately $1.5 million from the 2009-10 budget. Voting yes for the first and second questions means our district will not face any cuts; and the educational opportunities, class sizes, and staffing levels will stay as they are now.

If you vote no to both questions, our district will make $2.5 million of cuts for the 2009-10 year. If that were to happen, the school board's choices for cuts could include eliminating any educational program or extracurricular activity not required by the state.

Examples of programs not required include: foreign languages, art, computers, agriculture, music, robotics, shop, home economics, choir, and all sports.

Additionally, one in seven district jobs would be impacted. Imagine not having song fests, concerts, plays, and sporting events to attend. It is equally unimaginable to know a child may not be able to take classes necessary to get into college because subjects like physics aren't offered.

There is no limit on class size in our state, another way to cut expenses.

The situation is dire not because our district hasn't been good stewards of our money; they have. In the past four years, our district has cut $2.5 million and eliminated 44 jobs.

Our current operating levy is $498 per student; the state average is $760. MACCRAY and ACGC both have operating levies over $1,000. The state of Minnesota used to allocate money needed to provide a basic education; local levies were used for extras. Now, the opposite is true. Local levy dollars fund basic education, with state funding not keeping up with inflation.

Decisions are made by those who show up. Show up Nov. 4; vote yes twice for our schools and community!

Jill and Fred Gould