Editorial: Q1: Yes, absolutely; Q2: No, if you mustRed Wing cannot afford to reject the school referendum. The Sept. 9 vote is about more than schools; it’s about community and setting the stage for growth and leadership.
By: R-E Editorial Board, The Republican Eagle
Red Wing cannot afford to reject the school referendum. The Sept. 9 vote is about more than schools; it’s about community and setting the stage for growth and leadership.
The critical question of the two-part referendum is the first one. It asks Red Wing School District residents to generate $936.41 per student every year for five years, starting in 2009 when the current referendum expires. A yes vote on question 1 essentially maintains current funding and adds roughly $300 to cover lagging state funds and inflation.
The sad truth is that rejecting question 1 would send the district into a tailspin. The board would have to cut $2.1 million before next fall. Hundreds of thousands in cuts would come each year thereafter – until the district passed a referendum or the state corrected education funding.
Such cuts would affect more than the classroom; people should not be fooled into believing a “no” vote hurts only the district or families with students.
Quality schools tie directly to prosperity. Studies across the nation have shown links between local school funding and an area’s property values, job growth and ability to attract new residents. An investment in public schools pays for itself.
Conversely, communities that don’t invest in schools or value education decline or, at best, stagnate.
There are several personal concerns people consider when contemplating a move:
1. Secure employment
2. An affordable home in a safe neighborhood
3. A church or faith home
4. Quality health care
5. Quality local schools
Red Wing has most of these. A “yes” vote on question 1 will help ensure we have all five.
You could argue — and you would be right —- that these same arguments apply to question 2, which asks for an additional $175 per student. The difference is that the $175 would restore some previous cuts.
Few households, businesses or industries find themselves adding things into their budgets, given the current economy. Doing so is a luxury for many people.
Put another way, question 1 is about survival; question 2 is not.
We believe that’s why the School Board broke the referendum into two questions. Board members unanimously endorse both, but they also wanted to give the referendum’s maintenance portion the best possible chance of passage.
We remind people that Red Wing School District already has cuts millions. Combined, the two questions give the community a chance to stop cuts and stabilize local school funding for five years, plus keep class sizes down and classroom opportunities up. A “yes, yes” also would buy time, literally, for school districts like Red Wing -- and 90 percent of Minnesota districts rely on referendums to make ends meet — to pressure state lawmakers and correct education funding inequities.
If you believe as we that Red Wing cannot afford to go backward, vote “yes” on question 1. If you feel the community can’t afford to restore school programs, vote “no” on question 2.