Weather Forecast


Editorial: Support Willmar School levy plan

Voters in the Willmar School District will vote Nov.2 facing a decision -- whether to invest in the future of their district and the Willmar community or to not make that investment.

The district is asking voters to revoke a current levy of $498.49 per pupil and implement a new levy of $898.49 for a period of 10 years. The district also has a second levy of $201.51, which does not expire until 2019.

The West Central Tribune encourages Willmar School District voters to vote "yes" on this levy question. It is a strong and critical investment in our community, our future and, most importantly, our children, who are the most important resource and product of this district.

The state of Minnesota is no longer adequately funding its constitutional education obligation. This is reflected in the nearly 50 districts around the state seeking operating levy approval.

The state has also been delaying school aid payments to balance its own budget, which forces schools to address their cash flow situations. It is likely this will happen again next year as the 2011 Legislature tries to solve a $5 to 6 billion deficit.

Since emerging from statutory operating debt, the Willmar District's school board and administration have remained fiscally prudent and strategically focused.

In recent years, the district has made tough decisions:

- It has closed two buildings to streamline operations and cut budgets, reducing spending by more than 16 percent since 2005.

- Reduced the number of program offerings, teachers and staff employees.

- Delayed textbook purchase plans, with some classroom textbooks being nearly a decade old.

- Reduced textbook purchases, where some classrooms have more than five students sharing textbooks.

- The district has collaborated with the community to help share programs and control spending.

The School Board has strategically focused the proposed levy on two priorities:

- Support and improve student achievement.

- Maintain the district's fiscal stability.

If the voters do not approve this levy proposal, the district could easily end up in statutory operating debt.

School District voters need to step up in support of this proposed operating levy. It is critical to maintain the quality and student achievement of Willmar Schools.

Strong schools are a major factor in economic development of Willmar and Kandiyohi County. Without good schools, business leaders look elsewhere for employees as well as business locations.

On Nov. 2, voters should support our schools and our community with a yes vote on the Willmar operating levy.