Carrington School District is in the process of presenting informational meetings to the public regarding a New School Bond Initiative which, according to them, will add $23.5 million dollars (plus interest and other costs) to our local property taxes. On Tuesday, February 16, 2016, school district residents will vote yes or no toward building a new elementary school complex, including a new gymnasium and separate auditorium.
The long-range planning meeting which I attended on January 13, 2016, consisted of Superintendent Brian Duchscherer showing a PowerPoint presentation -- during and after which he answered questions from people in the audience. (You can find a copy of his PowerPoint presentation at the following location on the Carrington School District website: http://www.carrington.k12.nd.us/Carrington/bulletin/Long%20Range%20Plan/Presentation%201-13-2016.pdf )
This video consists of clips of local taxpayers responding to the presentation -- asking questions and commenting at the January 13th meeting. I recorded the meeting for myself, not with the intention of publishing it. However, after seeing how The Independent is covering the new school issue, I decided to let our community hear directly from local people expressing their concerns.
Please excuse the poor quality of the video. I tried to include a short clip of most people who spoke up at the meeting, so at times it's like being on a roller coaster with quick starts and stops. Also, the audio may go up and down according to how far the speaker was from my camera. All in all, however, I think you can get a good idea of the concerns that were voiced by members of the community that night ... which is not particularly reflected in the reports of The Independent.
You will notice that most of the comments and questions were from taxpayers (business persons, farmers, home-owners) -- persons who are not employed by the Carrington School District. There were many teachers and board members present, but I got the impression that they were not supposed to speak up... that Superintendent Duchscherer was speaking for them.
One noticeable exception took place when a teacher retorted to a taxpayer who was voicing her concerns about the huge financial impact for people on fixed incomes, the elderly and the disabled. The taxpayer said that her children had received a good education in Carrington in the school to be replaced, whereupon the teacher interrupted the taxpayer with the statement, "It's not about you, ____." What did she mean by that? Shouldn't this teacher and the school district be concerned about the effect this bond will have on people with low and/or fixed incomes?
And, what about the local farmers who will carry the biggest tax burden? Why did Superintendent Duchscherer give an example of a tax burden based on marginal cropland which is not indicative of the value of the average cropland in the district? Some farmers are worried that if this School Bond Initiative passes, it will mean the end of farming for them. Doesn't everyone know that Foster County depends upon the health and wealth of our farming community? It appears that many in this community don't mind biting the hand that feeds them.