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Like an Optical Illusion...Not everything is as it appears

After reading the letter from Cheryl Harris, about the school levy, I did some thinking and figuring myself. Couple things I feel an urge to comment on.

The part about hiring someone who is involved in extracurriculars is interesting. I was not at the school board meeting so I cannot judge the comments made or the intent of those comments. I can respond to the general concept of this issue however.

Cheryl points out that a student participating in extracurriculars does not make a student better than one who does not participate. I agree whole-heartedly with this statement. It does not automatically make one better than the other. What makes a person is much bigger than simply participating in extracurriculars. It is the person's self esteem and personal values that make the person...not the extracurriculars. However, there are many studies that show a student who does participate has a better chance to do better in school and life. Participating in musical activities (band, choir, etc.) fires and develops a different part of the brain. It does help the student do better in academics. Participating in sports teaches commitment, work ethic, teamwork, etc. All these are necessary for success in life. There are several students who, because of extracurriculars, stayed "off the streets" and "out of trouble". Extracurriculars do give students one more tool in their toolbox for success.

Cheryl also did some math with the numbers she had investigated. I found her math and resulting conclusion to be quite interesting. I agree that it does seem kind of coincidental.

However, after thinking about it some, I decided to flip the coin over and see what it looked like. Assume that Cheryl, in her statement ("Yes extracurriculars are nice. But let's face it, it's like running a family budget. If you don't have the money to go out and eat, you simply cannot do it."), means that the school should eliminate all extracurriculars. While I do not like to speak for someone else, it seems like this is a safe assumption as Cheryl has made comments similar to this in the past.

Let's look at the numbers from a different perspective. Perham receives about $6,661 (possibly even more) per high school student. The levy amount is $500,000 per year for 3 years. 986 students or 70% of all students participate in extracurricular.

If the voters were to vote down the levy and the school were to eliminate all extracurriculars what could some of the possible effects be?

986 students or 70% of all students participate in extracurriculars. Let's

eliminating all extracurriculars 986 students or 70% of all students would not be

able to receive the kind of education experience they and their parents want them to have.

986 students or 70% of all students would be less prepared for life as they would

not have had the opportunity to experience life lessons of commitment, work

ethic, teamwork, etc. that is learned through these types of activities.

A significant percent of the students would not be able to experience greater brain

development as there would be no choir, band, orchestra, musicals or other type

of extracurricular that has been proven to accomplish this development.

Finally, from a numbers point of view what would happen to the students that

wished to experience the programs that Cheryl is suggesting be eliminated. It has been proven in other school districts (look not to far to the east...Park Rapids) when failed levies have resulted in significant extra curricular cuts (not elimination), students go elsewhere so that they can experience these things. If extracurriculars were eliminated in Perham, students would leave the district. It would take only 75 of the 986 students leaving to equal $500,000 (500,000 / $6,661 = 75). I don't think it is a stretch to believe Perham would lose these students.

The end result of voting down the levy and eliminating all extracurriculars is not simply $500,000 per year. At best it is a million dollar swing. At worst it is several million dollars. Worst of all, it is the short changing of "tomorrows promise"...our children.

Support "tomorrow's promise"...our yes for the levy on November 3.