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OPINION: We cannot afford levy increase for school

This letter is in response to the article about the school levy referendum in November and only one polling place (the PACC) being open for all of the voters of the Perham School District to go to vote on this matter.

Perception is everything and the perception here is that the school board is trying to eliminate those outlying voters who defeated the levy referendum the last time by making it extremely inconvenient for them to get to a polling place to vote. Along with the inconvenience, is all the time to drive, gas used and waiting in line to vote. With only one polling place open for everyone in the school district to vote, there will be lines based upon the fact that the school district doesn't want to pay to rent the voting machines.

Can we assume that there will be only one or two machines for the whole district at the PACC?

I thought the school was encouraging people to "go green". Why are they making voters drive extra putting more pollutants in the air? As for the wages of the election judges, those election judges can opt to work for free. All they have to do is sign a statement that they do not want judge's wages for the levy referendum vote. There are ways to cut costs, but you don't hear about that!

As for the levy itself, I hope it fails. I'm not against the students getting a good education by any means. I had a great education. My school was actually smaller than Perham. We had grades 7 - 12 in one building. We had great teachers! We actually had teachers that were full time teachers and ALSO did the coaching. We didn't have full time coaches. We also didn't have a spring break and survived. I do not understand why there is a break when the school still needs to have heat on and janitorial service. What a waste of money! Students should be in school then. We went to school the day after Labor Day, got off Thursday and Friday for MEA, the Friday after Thanksgiving, two weeks for Christmas/New Year and went back to school the day after New Year's Day. Then, only if we didn't have snow days, we got three days at Easter. But if we had snow days, then that cancelled any Easter vacation. We still managed to be done with school by the end of May. It amazes me that there are all of these school days off for teacher workdays and conferences and spring break. On days when I have to be in Perham over the noon hour or just after noon, I see quite a few students walking around on the streets toward downtown. I truly believe that if the students were required to stay at school and study if they weren't in a class during school hours, perhaps more learning would occur. We didn't have modular scheduling and had study halls when we didn't have class. Perhaps we need to revisit the "old" ways. Perhaps they weren't so bad. As for the size of the classroom, what do you think the size of the classroom is when they go to college? What size is the "classroom" when they apply for a job?

I don't think we need more money per student. I think we need to better use the money we have for each student. While sports can be a good thing, not every student is sports oriented. Why do we need to travel so far and spend so much money on gas, buses and in some cases, rooms for overnight trips for sports? How many of these students will have a career in sports versus working regular jobs? Does a trophy mean that much?

Again, it's amazing how this levy will work. For the private homeowners, they are taxed on their home and yard. For the agricultural community, they are taxed on their home and one acre of land. For the resorts, we are taxed on the entire resort and all land and all buildings. For the non-homestead summer recreational, they don't even pay any levy tax because according to the rules, they don't use the school. Well, neither do I. I have never had a child in the Perham School system and yet I pay one of the highest taxes toward the school district. The rest of the resorts in the school district also pay higher taxes. Under the current economy, there are some resorts that may have a hard time coming up with that money, not to mention the regular homeowner.

I applaud the school board for trying to obtain more money for the students, but at whose expense? May I suggest that the school board also make a sacrifice and suspend their wages and expenses for their board meetings. May I also suggest that the business practice class(es) be assigned projects to do for the administration that would free up some clerical position. It's time to pull up our pants, tighten our belts and work within existing budgets. I know a lot of cuts have been made, but there are more to be done. Having only one place to vote on this levy makes it look like the school board is being underhanded and attempting to ram this levy down the voter's throats by making it difficult and inconvenient for the outlying voters. I vote NO! If you need an election judge to serve for free - I will!!! I'm sure I can find two others in the Dent/Richville area to help for free as well and set up a voting station around here. I am a qualified Head Judge/Election Judge and offer my services. As a daughter of a public school superintendent my whole school life, I encourage the voters of Perham School District to vote NO to the levy! We simply cannot afford it!

Cheryl Harris

Richville, MN