To the editor,
I am writing to ask the voters of District 196 for a yes vote on the Nov. 5 levy referendum. Like other fiscal conservatives, I have a strong interest in seeing that taxpayers’ hard-earned money is spent judiciously. I am never in favor of bloated public budgets, excessive taxing, or frivolous spending. Over the past 16 years (amounting to 37 “student years” for our three children), District 196 has earned my respect as a wise steward of its financial resources.
After the defeat of the 2010 levy, the district tightened its belt even more than it already had by eliminating 100-plus teaching positions, downgrading salary schedules, increasing class sizes, and raising student participation fees. Failure to pass the 2013 levy will result in additional cuts that will diminish the quality of our students’ education, make District 196 a less attractive place for excellent teachers to work and tarnish the district’s reputation as the “go-to” school district for families buying homes in the area or choosing to open enroll. In my observation as a long-term school volunteer and by every available measure, District 196 is fiscally well managed, consistently spending less per pupil than many districts statewide.
A telling sign that education has been underfunded by the state in recent years is that fully 90 percent of Minnesota school districts rely on voter-approved revenue to meet their operating budgets. Given that the net impact of passing the levy will be just $56 on the average-value home in District 196, I can’t think of anything that will bring a better long-term return on a relatively modest investment. My own children have benefited greatly from the breadth and quality of District 196’s academic and extracurricular offerings, and I want to help make a first-rate education attainable for other students in our community. Please join me in voting yes on Nov. 5.