Opportunity to shape the future

Next week, voters in District 728 will have an opportunity to help shape the future of their school district. Good schools are a hallmark of a good community. More than a source of pride, an exceptional educational system produces multiple positive outcomes.

Students have more opportunities and broader learning experiences, better preparing them for their own future. They are better equipped to get and keep good jobs. Young people with prospects tend to shy away from activities that are destructive to the community. Adults with good jobs are better able to support their community and its people.

Communities with exceptional schools retain current residents and attract future ones — a 1 percent increase in district reading and math scores can lead to as much as a 1 percent increase in property values across the board. A comprehensive study showing the correlation between schools and property values can be found at http://www.econ.yale.edu/seminars/labor/lap04/staiger-040506.pdf.

The District 728 schools are good now, despite the fact that our funding is lower than peer school districts. I know this as the parent of two current pupils. But we have an opportunity now to make them better.

The funding derived from the two proposed levies would help make all day, everyday kindergarten available for all who want it. This option is now available for a fee by lottery, and not all interested families are accepted.

Studies have shown that children who attend kindergarten full time perform better as older students. The funding would also help the district acquire and implement technology and curriculum enhancements that will further benefit students and the community at large.

Funding from these levies will help maintain and grow the support that has led to an increase in test scores over the past five years, as well as programs that target at-risk learners to make sure every students leaves the district with the skills necessary to ensure their success.

Failure to pass both levy questions will lead to reductions throughout the district, which would face a budget shortfall of $12 million.

A “NO” vote could lead to the loss of as many as 200 positions district-wide, the reduction or elimination of electives, choice programs, community services, co-curricular programs and activities, and an increase in K–12 class sizes by as much as 10 percent.

Next Tuesday, you have the chance to answer the question, “Do I want to live in a community with exceptional schools, or am I satisfied that they are merely adequate?” — Christopher Borum, Elk River