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Just do the right thing... Vote 'yes' on the levy and let's get on with it

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By now, most of us have heard just about every argument for--and against--the Perham-Dent school levy referendum.

Now, the decision is in the hands of the voters.

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One of the common themes forwarded by the "vote no" opponents is that the levy should not be for a 10 year span. The Concerned Citizens for Property Tax Fairness agree that the school could use "a shot in the arm," but that it shouldn't continue for ten years.

I don't think any of us would disagree with that premise: the levy should ideally rise and fall with the ebb and flow of each Perham-Dent school budget cycle, depending on how much operating revenue is needed that particular year.

In effect, that is what will happen. Whether or not the school levies the full $695 per student, will be determined during the budgeting process. Conservative budgeting could keep the levy at a minimum--but I wouldn't count on that for the first year. In other words, the board can levy less if the schools can get by with less.

The school will no doubt need to levy of $695 per student in 1009-10 in order to fend off another $500,000 or more in budget cuts.

Even with the proposed $695 levy--combined with the present $26 per student levy--Perham would be seeking a maximum of $721 per pupil. Interestingly, that is still below the average statewide levy, which is $760.

Looking around the area:

Rothsay..............$2,250 per student

Henning............$1,023

Frazee-Vergas...$1,000

Park Rapids........$600

New York Mills is at only $200 per student presently--but the board and administration is planning a referendum vote within the coming year.

Another big factor: State funding.

If the legislature approves a reasonable increase in state funding--something beyond the meager 0 to 2 percent that has been doled out for most of the decade--Perham-Dent may not need the entire $695 per student.

I'm not going to pull out the violin and play a melancholy tune about how Perham-Dent school kids will be gravely deprived without more money.

If you read the letters to the editor on this page and during recent weeks, there are plenty of folks singing a sad song about the school's future.

I'm not going to suggest that the football program will end if the levy fails; that the kids will turn into idle, drug-and-alcohol-abusing criminals if the school doesn't get more money; or that the students will turn into complete dunces unless we pay teachers more.

What I am suggesting is that Perham-Dent voters do the right thing: Vote "yes" on the damn levy, and let's move on.

Trust me, as one who observed most of the school's budget-cutting of the past three years, the schools need more operating revenue. If we don't provide it, you'll be facing this question on the ballot again....and again...and again.....just like Frazee, Lake Park-Audubon and many other financially-strapped schools.

Do we really want to got through this convoluted, painful process more than once?

About election-related letters to the editor

Remember, this was our cut-off week for letters to the editor on political candidates and election-related issues.

We love letters to the editor, so keep on writing--but the next edition is our one week "cooling off" period before election day, November 4.

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