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Letter: Levy about more than the recession

As a member of the Perham School Board and currently the Board Chair, I would like to respond to the comments from Mr. Ed Nelson, Ottertail, in last week's "Letters to the Editor".

I can assure you that the elected representatives for the Perham School District clearly comprehend the severity of the current recession. We discuss the effect of the recession at almost every meeting and discuss the impact it has on our obligation to provide a quality education for the students. We all are living with the impact this has on our economy and the higher cost of living. It impacts all of us, not just retired or people on fixed incomes. Just as people are struggling to stay afloat, the Perham School District is struggling to maintain quality education that the students in this and every district deserve.

When you attended the one room school house that had a teacher that taught all 8 grades, I am sure the people in the community where you lived struggled and adapted their lives to accommodate your being able to attend that school with a quality teachers, facilities, and supplies. We are trying to do the same for the students today. We have looked down every avenue and continue the process to look at ways to cut costs, share services, and operate most efficiently. This and providing a quality education for our students is our responsibility as the elected Board. We have pushed and continue to push our administration and teachers to do more, do better with less. They have stepped up to the challenge and continue to provide high standards and quality education in times of continued budget reductions. I believe in our administration and staff and feel they will continue to do this as we move forward. Our school also has also turned out very successful businessmen and women in the past and will continue to do so in the future. We need to maintain the quality of our education system and continue to invest in the resources of our community, our students. We just owe them a quality education, just as your community provided to you.

Technology today is a requirement that every student must access. There are very few employment opportunities today for someone who cannot operate technology. From the cashier in the convenience store, line worker at manufacturing plants and garbage collectors, tellers at banks, we all use technology as a part of the basic jobs. This was not the case for you and me when we went to school, but today, very few people do not need technology as a part of their everyday lives. We must provide that base and it is as important as the basic "Reading, Writing and Arithmetic" of days past. I remember when I grew up my dad said if you want to be successful you must work hard. As I talk to kids today, I tell them if all you do is work hard, you then will be tired. Today you must work hard and smart to be successful. Technology and education allow for that to happen. Class size is very important when you look at the complexity of the concepts taught today versus 20 or 30 years ago. Math is harder, English has more requirements, history is more global, and the requirements to earn a diploma are significantly higher than when you and I went to school.

If the School Board had other options than this levy, we would be vigorously pursuing them. We are out of options and are at risk of further reductions from the state if we do not have a minimum levy in place.

We are asking to put this levy in place to allow our students today to have the same opportunity to be successful that your community provided to you. If you or others you know would like to get together and discuss how we can better manage the system, reduce expenses, and continue to give our students the quality education they are entitled to, please attend a School Board meeting. Let me know and we can set time aside to discuss your ideas and see what we can do together to make this successful for all.

In closing, we are adjusting the school budget continually to reflect the hard economic time. We continue to reduce expenses and share cost with other districts whenever we get the chance. We strive to minimize the negative impact on the quality of the students' education

I look forward to hearing from you and discussing how we can make our students successful together. If anyone reading this has questions, please feel free to contact me anytime. I will be happy to answer questions about the school system and the reasons why we need this levy to keep our students and our community successful and vibrant in the future.

Jim Rieber, Chair

Perham School District