Viewpoint: Learn about levy at WingersSoar

Body: 

By Karsten Anderson, superintendent of Red Wing Public Schools
 

As I begin my eighth year as superintendent of Red Wing Public Schools, I am grateful to be a part of a community with residents who are deeply dedicated to our students and community.

Earlier this summer, an example of this commitment was shared with me while climbing Barn Bluff. A parent told me about how the work of passionate teachers and a community mentor helped her daughter make some positive changes academically and socially. Our work together made a difference in her life.

RELATED: RW School District launches new voter-friendly website

While on walks up Barn Bluff, I often visit with children and adults who love living, working, studying, and visiting here. Indeed, this is a great place to be.

In the past, as part of a strong commitment to our community, Red Wing residents have stepped up to ensure adequate funding for students, and we have used those funds to provide solid academic and career readiness programming for our students.

Our current operating levy, however, expires after the end of next school year. Based on extensive conversations with staff members and community members, the School Board proposed two operating levy questions for consideration on Nov. 6.

Question 1 asks voters to increase the operating levy to $1,200/student for the next five years. A portion of this amount ($511.64 per student) is a renewal of our existing levy, which has not been increased for ten years.

Passage of Question 1 is needed to sustain current class size ratios, core and vocational courses, support services, and alternative and early childhood education facilities. Question 1 would keep us on our current path.

Question 2 asks voters for an additional investment of $450 percent student for the next five years. Funding will pay for enhanced career readiness initiatives; more academic, behavioral and counseling support; and additional STEAM—science, technology, engineering, arts, and math—offerings. Stronger technical and vocational offerings will enable students to access community-based internships and obtain industry certifications. We want our students to be career-ready, college-ready, and life-ready.

While most education funding comes from the state, it is simply not enough to cover all school needs. That's why Minnesota school districts depend on local support from operating levies to help provide the necessary funding for classroom education.

The current operating levy provides about 7 percent of the district's general fund budget. Without the operating levy, one possible plan would eliminate 20 teaching positions, which would lead to larger class sizes and fewer course offerings. Academic, behavioral and counseling services would be diminished, and we would need to make important decisions about the future of the Tower View Alternative Learning Center and Colvill Family Center.

Please visit our website WingersSoar.org for additional information and the latest news on the operating levy questions. Please share your thoughts and ask questions by emailing me at klanderson@rwps.org or calling 651-385-4502.

I look forward to hearing your ideas on how we as a community can make our schools even stronger!