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Letter: Citizens Are Responsible For Providing Quality Education

We believe that we citizens are responsible for providing a quality education for the children of our school district. These students, whose lives are most impacted by this levy vote, cannot vote to protect their future. It is in their best interest - and ours - to vote 'Yes' on Nov. 2. Those who oppose the referendum base their vote on two arguments: the levy is too expensive and that now is not the right time. These arguments are flawed and misleading. Where is the body of facts that offers support for their assertion? What amount are they proposing? If not now, when exactly is the right time? We gave been waiting for their answers for several years. Our Board of Education has carefully designed a reasonable levy - not a "pie-in-the-sky" wish list but one that will adequately fund our children's education.

Because of the past referendum failures over most of the past decade, the Board has been forced to make repeated budget cuts: almost $4,000,000 worth! Teachers and support staff are in their second year of a wage freeze. Administrators have volunteered to take pay cuts. Course offerings ranging from college prep classes to vocational offerings, from foreign languages to music and art are gone. Our district is able to provide only old outdated textbooks for many courses, including American History, World Geography and Algebra I and II.

Our Board of Education has been forced to terminate teachers at each grade level and all subject area disciplines resulting in fewer course choices and large class sizes. Some may believe that class size does not make a different. Our training and 70 years of combined experience in classroom teaching deny this assertion. Class size makes a difference in both quality of teaching and the learning environment.

Where has this decade of reductions led us? A school district that was widely admired for its excellence has been cited by No Child Left Behind as one that "needs improvement." Neighboring districts including Frazee, Park Rapids and Detroit Lakes already have levies in place. How long will it be before our children begin to seek "greener pastures" to receive a quality education? With them will go an important community resource. Will they come back to Perham as adults to raise children? We think not. Therefore, we know that we as voters cannot allow this levy to fail. Not unless we think that a relatively few dollars a year is worth jeopardizing our children's prospects and our community's future.

Ron Anderson

Jim Braun