Monday, February 15, 2016
Numerous supporters have given their opinion over and over that each property taxpayer can afford to take out another mortgage on their property (disguised as a bond) for the next twenty years. Their favorite slogan is “pay it forward.”
Some supporters claim that the opponents are uneducated because they fail to see how inadequate our current school is and how much better the new school will serve the children. As well, those taxpayers who don’t want to contribute their “fair share” are cheap, mean-spirited and don’t care for the welfare of our children.
If your home is most likely valued at $100,000, supporters argue that it will only cost a little over $300 per year extra for the next twenty years. They say no homeowner should object to an extra $300 per year in property taxes. Apparently their opinion, like a local politician mentioned, is you shouldn’t mind giving up one weekend a year in Fargo for the school.
What about the farmers? Based on their figures, the average farmer in the district will be facing about $9,000 extra each year for the next twenty years. One school board member said if that little of a property tax increase made a difference to a farmer, he should throw the keys to his tractor as far as he could and run away. Another school board member claimed if that little bit of money made a difference, they had no business farming. What statements of empathy!
The proponents have been less than honest selling this measure. As an example, their own enrollment figures show a steady declining enrollment. Their sales brochure shows the same decline but they refer to it as “steady enrollment.” They stated the $23.5 million is all inclusive. Not true. That is only the starting point. There is no funding to demolish and remove the current school or the cost of the bond offering. Will we be looking at an another bond measure to demolish the present school? They claim there is no plan “B.” Not true. There is and was a plan for about $6 million to bring the present school up to date, remove the asbestos, enlarge and upgrade various parts of the current school.
The financial well being of our community rests on the financial health of our farming community. The real farmer (not the hobby politician type) will be kicked directly in the month if this passes. This impact will ripple through every part of the business community in this school district.
Show your support for our farmers, homeowners, landlords, business owners and our community and vote NO.
Thursday, February 11, 2016
I wish we could start over with some of our back-and-forth conversations regarding the school bond measure and come at the issue with the understanding that we all ultimately want what's best for our schools, our children and our community. Somewhere along the line, people have said things that show they truly don't understand that we all have the same goals in mind - that is the well-being of our children, which includes a good education and good learning environment for them - AND the well-being of our community. The problem is that we don't agree on the way and/or the time to accomplish those goals.
If one is a thoughtful person, each side of this issue should be understandable to the other side.
Those persons who hope the present school bond measure will pass with a "yes" vote think that there is no better way to spend money than on our kids. They think that our children deserve a better structural environment in which to be educated. They want easier access to classrooms for special needs children and for visiting adults with movement disabilities. They want more room for children to spread out for group learning. They want a large gymnasium for physical education and the sports which our community values greatly. They want an auditorium where all kinds of special activities can take place for both school and community events. Many of these "yes" people have put a great amount of time and effort into helping plan the new school. Many of them are educators and community members with excellent ideas about how to create a successful learning environment. In addition, they've called in experts in architectural and school management fields to help them with their goals. Their efforts should be appreciated whether or not one agrees with their outcome.
Those persons who hope the school bond measure will be defeated at this time want many of the same things that the bond-supporters want. They also love and value the children of our community and want them to have an excellent education. The disagreement over the bond issue revolves around the high cost of the proposed school structure and the high property taxes that will have to be paid for the next 20 years. Many of these "no" people worry about the community members (the elderly, the disabled, people with low or fixed incomes) whose lives will be drastically impacted with such a high tax burden added to what they are already paying. They also worry about the huge impact on farmers who are already suffering from our current recession and low commodity prices. They don't think that such a huge, forced investment "at this time" is such a good idea. Many of these community members (successful business persons, farmers, persons with low incomes, our older population) wonder why the school district didn't present them with several different choices/proposals before forcing a vote for a school bond on them in such a very short period of time . They are concerned that a "yes" vote at this time will ultimately be detrimental to everyone because of the negative effect on the livelihood of many of our community taxpayers. The concerns of this group should be acknowledged and appreciated whether or not one agrees with them.
My question is... can we possibly work together to come up with a less burdensome plan that will address the problem issues at Carrington Elementary School - without having to build a new school? I've heard that during their meetings the school district came up with a $5-6 million upgrade which they discarded. Perhaps the Carrington School District community would gladly approve of this amount instead of the $23.5 to $35 million dollar tax responsibility that will be forced on them with a "yes" vote on the present measure. Is it too late to do something like this? Can we defeat this measure, and then proceed to accomplish a much less expensive fix?
The Carrington School District community is filled with people who are talented and knowledgeable in all the areas necessary to accomplish any goal on which they focus. The key to success is to WORK TOGETHER and FOCUS on creating an outcome that is BENEFICIAL TO EVERYONE.