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Vote on referendum based on facts

After reading the article in the paper about Roger Vettlson (the retired teacher and long-time supporter of schools who plans to vote "no" on the levy), I felt compelled to write.

My name is Trish Berns. I have lived in the town of Perham since getting married. My husband is Ron Berns who happens to be the current Chairman of the Perham-Dent School Board. I can tell Roger, straight out, that the school board does not take budget issues lightly. Many hours of sleep have been lost. I cannot speak for other school board members, but my husband takes his role very seriously. He wants what is best for the education of all Perham youth and not just our own children. One example would be the fact that he was willing to cut orchestra to save on the budget. All four of our children have spent years in this activity, yet he was willing to make the sacrifice if it was what was best for the schools. We also have a daughter involved in dance who would have loved if the school added dance-line to its activities. The school board rightly decided that it was wrong to add more extracurriculars when there were so many cuts being made in the classrooms.

Mr. Vettleson is a proponent of the four-day school week. I know that the board has discussed this. I can't tell you exactly why they decided against it, but I can tell you why I, personally, am against it. In order to get in the same number of classroom hours each week, the school day would have to be a little over 1 hour longer each day of the four day week. The way things are now, the school bus stops by my house at 8:00 each morning. It is between 5:45 and 6:15 each evening by the time my children get home after cross-country practice. That is a long day. You are asking for a school day that would run from approximately 8:30 in the morning till 5:00 in the evening, not counting bus time, before any extracurriculars or homework. How many adults put in those hours at work? I personally like my children and I like being with them. This would definitely allow me less time with them. Yes, they would be home that one more day every week, but I still have to go to work that day, which brings up a whole new issue with children who would need to go to daycare this extra day off of school. A four-day week would show financial benefits, but at what cost to our children and our families?

Also, in his letter to the editor, Mr. Vettleson declared that the school district was just trying to "maintain a lifestyle" with this levy. That is the whole point! We have a wonderful school system that is turning out well-educated young adults and I would really like to see that continue in the future.

I have asked myself why so many people from all over, such as Mr. Vettleson, chose to retire to this area when there are so many beautiful lakes across the entire state. I am led to believe that they retire here for the community. Look around this area. See how many businesses are owned, operated, and staffed by graduates of the Perham school system? I can't help but think that this would not be the community it is if our school system were not what it is.

I ask you Mr. Vettleson, have you sat down and talked to Superintendent Uselman? She loves to answer people's questions and I have never heard her refuse to meet with anyone. I think if you do, whether you vote yes or no, at least you will be able to vote with the facts and not just a property tax statement.


Trish Berns, Mother of four fine examples of Perham schools