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Healthy school, community good for all

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Approximately two decades ago, the community faced a huge challenge; voters had rejected a bond referendum, effectively saying "no" to additional school space. Ambitious community leaders pro-acted with fervor to continue to make Perham a prospering district and community by leading community visioning meetings, to find a way to create what Perham/Dent School District and the community collectively needed for recreational/athletic facilities. Fundraising followed, and the community answered resoundingly, pledging $1.6 million to construct the original 2/3 of the PACC. The school district and PACC, in the spirit of cooperation, then created a use agreement so that some of the district needs for sports practices and physical education classes could be met within the new construction. Lease dollars paid through the district for school use of facilities then began (and still remain) to be an important part of the PACC's operating budget.

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Several years later the spirit of cooperation continued to prevail, momentum gained, and eventually an addition was built onto the PACC, utilizing both public and private dollars (to further meet community and district needs), and two separate bond referendums were passed as well to construct Heart of the Lakes Elementary then Prairie Wind Middle School. Even with the newly constructed schools, district needs were and still are as such to where the district needs to have access to the PACC.

The PACC Board and Administration continue to value the School/PACC relationship, the opportunities it provides for students, and the more reasonable rates that it ultimately provides for other patrons due to lease revenue from the school district. Sure, every PACC user enjoys having her/his space to work-out, relax, and socialize. But, realistically, I would venture to guess that none wishes to have the space, exclusively free from school use, in turn paying user rates that reflect a school district that no longer needs or can viably afford to be at the PACC.

Many have witnessed what can happen in communities when they lack the spirit of cooperation. Please keep your local school system, the PACC, and the overall health of your community in mind as an operating levy appears on the ballot this fall. A healthy school district helps to foster an overall healthy community. A healthy community is good for all of us.

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Kevin Nelson, PACC Director

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