OUR OPINION: SCHOOL LEVIES
This time, Brainerd School District voters weighed the ballot questions posed by school officials and strongly supported two school levy requests. As a result, parents and community members who had been concerned about what more drastic education cuts would mean for the district, are breathing a little easier.
Tuesday’s election results were a marked difference from 2007 when voters rejected an operating levy referendum by a 2-1 margin. Since that date the U.S. has gone through a financial crash followed by a sluggish recovery and the rise of the tea party with its strong anti-tax message. In the months leading up to the levy referendum, many folks had predicted that the latest levy requests would be defeated as well.
Instead, Brainerd School District voters on Tuesday renewed the $199.24 per pupil levy 70.57 to 29.42 percent and also approved an additional $200 per pupil levy 53.92 to 46.07 percent.
They weren’t alone in their support for schools. Statewide, nearly 80 percent of Minnesota school districts who asked for local property tax money got some of what they asked for. There seems to be a growing realization that the state is not meeting its responsibility of adequately funding our schools.
Credit can certainly be attributed to school administrators, who laid out the financial facts for supporters and opponents alike, and to the Citizens Vote Yes Yes Steering Committee, which tirelessly made phone calls and advocated for the two levies. Recognition, however, should also go to the voters who rejected the knee-jerk reaction we all have to raising our own taxes and considered what sort of future this community might have if our school district was forced to make draconian cuts. As it is, the school administrators may still have to make sizable cuts, particularly if the state’s revenue forecast doesn’t show signs of improvement.
Still, Tuesday’s vote will make a big difference in maintaining a quality education system that can continue to serve the Brainerd lakes area.