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Together for Kids rally sparks drive for 'yes' vote on school levy increase

With less than four weeks to the November 4 election, a group of more than 100 rallied Oct. 13 to promote a "yes" vote on increasing the levy for the Perham-Dent schools.

Several speakers energized the crowd, calling for support for the schools. The speakers ranged from a Perham High School student to a senior citizen.

"I'm one of the elders in this community, and I know our children are important," said Cathy Guck, an eighty-something retired teacher. She quoted Mother Jones, an early women's rights activist from a century ago, to drive home her point to support the increased levy. "Pray for the dead; but fight like hell for the living."

Representing Perham students, Lucas Wuebben said, "I don't want my younger sisters to be denied the same opportunities I received."

Co-chair of the Together for Kids group, Stacy Malikowski, said "in a me-centered world, a "yes" vote is an us-centered action."

In an apparent jab at the Concerned Citizens for Property Tax Fairness, many of whom are retirees on high-valued lakeshore property, Malikowski said, "this school does not belong to the rich and famous. The school belongs to the community who built it, supported it and continues to invest in it."

"What makes a community successful is its people...and what makes people successful is education," said Perham Mayor Kevin Keil.

As his 50th class reunion approaches, Perham native Kenny Nelson reflected on the value of the school in a "progressive, aggressive community."

"I'm one of the older folks, but I'm young at heart," said Nelson, owner of KLN Enterprises. He applauded school staff and students for winning the statewide "Challenge Cup," which recognizes the school with top extracurricular performance.

"We've cut as far as we can cut," said Nelson of the school's budget reductions over the past four years, adding that there is "no alternative" but to pass the increased levy referendum.

State Senator Dan Skogen urged not only Perham residents, but also those in Pelican Rapids and Parkers Prairie to support referendums that increase local funding of schools. "An uneducated society is something that costs a lot more in the end," said Skogen.