As longtime parents in the district, we would like to share some of the changes that we have seen over the past 16 years (we have two older children who graduated in 2007 and 2009, respectively, and now have a daughter who is in fourth grade).
Over the course of our time in the district, we have seen a lot of programming eliminated due to lack of funding. For example, there is no longer a Challenge (gifted and talented) program in our district, which has caused many families with academically oriented students to leave our district, or choose private alternatives. We no longer have a sports program in our middle schools, and foreign language courses in the middle schools have likewise been cut. Many of our arts and music programs across the district have been eliminated or reduced. Juxtaposed against these reductions, we have seen class sizes soar. Our elementary school classes now have up to 35 students in a classroom.
Voting yes to Question 1 sustains current funding, reducing the risk of even more program cuts and even larger class sizes. Voting yes to Question 2 (which cannot pass without Question 1 passing) supports initiatives that have been cut or have been unachievable — programs like all-day everyday kindergarten, up-to-date classroom technologies, online learning opportunities and revision of outdated curricula.
Such programs and smaller classes were a part of what made our district one of the best in the state. We as citizens and voters need to re-evaluate what is important to the betterment of our community. Please vote yes to both levy questions in November — and help ensure that all students can continue being offered the excellent education for which Elk River area schools have long been known. — Liane and Mark Kondrak, Elk River