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ISD 181 Viewpoint: Reflections on Lincoln

As we move closer to the April 10 referendum election on our long-term investments in education, a question we are beginning to hear more often is whether we really need to close and deconstruct Lincoln. As a point of fact, the now 80 year-old Lincoln school was constructed in 1938 to replace the former Lincoln school after just 46 years of use.

I have a unique perspective on this. When I was growing up in Brainerd, I lived across the street from Lincoln School. I attended Lincoln from kindergarten all the way through sixth grade. Many memories were made there and I love being part of the history of a school that goes back many generations.

However, we can't turn the clock back when we are making plans for educating today's and tomorrow's children. Decisions about spending our local tax dollars upgrading buildings no longer suitable for modern education are difficult and require close examination of many factors. In the end, I believe we'll all agree that we want to spend our tax dollars wisely on community investments that create long-term value.

In developing our plan, the school board has always focused on more secure schools, better classroom education and high taxpayer value. Keeping Lincoln open—either as a classroom building or as a landmark — may have been emotionally satisfying to me, but wasn't the best option to serve our students at the value our community taxpayers demand.

We found that remodeling South Campus, the future home we propose for students currently at Lincoln, for the space and connectivity to North Campus that we need for these programs is more cost-effective than doing the major maintenance and significant remodeling and expansion that Lincoln would require in order to appropriately serve our students.

In addition, we need the land Lincoln sits on to help us achieve our goal of improving safety and security at Brainerd High School. We propose to direct everyone coming into all of our school buildings during the school day to a controlled and monitored main entrance. To do this at BHS, and to make it more convenient for community members to attend activities and events at any time, we need parking as close to those doors as possible.

I will miss Lincoln. But after over three years of developing solutions with our community, closing the building is still the right decision. My memories remain, and the loss I feel from Lincoln's closing is much less important to me today than the investment we will make in safer, smarter and more technology-enabled schools for the future.

If you need more information, please go to Blueprint181.org or call the school district at 218-454-6900.

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