In a matter of days voters throughout our school district will cast their ballots. They will elect a president, senators, representatives, state, county, city and town officials. They will also vote on a variety of issues, including two local ballot questions that directly affect every ISD 728 learner now and into the future.
Our School Board has placed two levy questions on the Nov. 6 ballot. The first ballot question renews an existing levy that allows our school district to continue receiving funding at the exact same rate as when it was first approved by voters in 2003. Their second question is for a new 10-year levy that, if approved, will provide $400 more per student through 2023. Because this is new funding there will be new taxes; however, we are optimistic that we can possibly reduce the amount taxpayers will pay through other financial adjustments.
If both of these ballot issues pass, we will maintain existing services and programs. We will invest in free, all-day, everyday kindergarten, upgrade our curriculum and technology and offset the loss of $3 million in state and federal funding. If our first question passes, we will continue to do our best to maintain what we currently offer. If both questions fail (the second can only be approved if the first question passes), we will be forced to cut up to $12 million from our budget, eliminate between 200 and 240 positions, increase class sizes by 10 percent and reduce or eliminate programs, services and maintenance the next two years.
In the past weeks our School Board has shared their insights through editorials in the local newspapers on how these levies will be used. I recommend you read each, as they provide detailed reasoning on the facts of these levy questions and our finances. All of their articles along with detailed information about these levies are available on our website at www.elkriver.k12.mn.us/2012levy.
We in ISD 728 are conscientious managers of the taxes our communities entrust us with; the consistent audits and awards attest to this. The educational achievements that occur day-in and day-out in our schools is commendable, but we can do better. We have a strategic plan that is our road map for student success through 2017. This plan, created with the help of many volunteers from our communities, can only be fully implemented if our communities provide their support. This plan enables us to meet our mission so that your sons, daughters and grandchildren are educated, inspired and empowered, to shape their futures and achieve their dreams. With your support, today and tomorrow’s learners will contribute positively to our local and global communities.
Simply put, this is good for all of our learners! To meet the needs of today’s learners, children need the most current technology and updated curriculum. They also deserve high-quality teachers and safe, clean facilities. We can do better, but to do so we need to work together. With the passage of both of these questions we will do better. I cannot ask for your vote, but I can ask that you make educated, informed decisions Nov. 6. Thank you. — Dr. Mark Bezek, superintendent of schools