OUR OPINION: SCHOOLS
Supporters of financially strapped Minnesota school districts will watch with interest as Pequot Lakes School District voters go to the polls Tuesday to vote on a $33.175 million school bond referendum.
What’s the mood of voters in the first area election of 2011 as we continue to struggle with high unemployment and a slow economy? How will they gauge the needs of their schools against their own ability to contribute more during a tight economic time?
The Pequot Lakes referendum is identical to one that was turned down by voters by a substantial margin last June. Spread over 231/2 years the bond would be used for repairs and renovations that would help remedy crowded conditions in the schools. Sometimes school district pleas for physical needs such as the repair of a broken boiler or a leaky roof are looked upon more favorably by voters. In this second bid for the school bond referendum will voters look at the request differently.
Vocal opposition to the referendum has been not been very visible, while proponents of the referendum have waged an aggressive letter-writing and informational campaign for the measure. That’s not unusual in a school referendum vote. Those who vote no on school referendums do so for a variety of reasons and may not want their neighbors to think of them as being against education or against the school district. They often remain silent and then quietly go to the polls and vote no.
School district officials figure the bond referendum’s impact on residential homesteads and seasonal residential homes with a taxable value of $100,000 would be $23 a year or $1.92 a month.
We don’t underestimate the economic challenges facing many families, but the majority of us would probably admit that we spend more than $1.92 a month on items we enjoy but could do without — premium coffees, chocolate, cigarettes.
The decision is up to the Pequot Lakes School District voters but support for the bond referendum seems like a good value to the community to us. A well educated work force will go a long way to helping this region when we finally pull out of this economic morass.