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Letter: Referendum questions reflect district's changing needs

Every time I walk into one of our public schools lately, I am so proud of the building updates and fixed systems that the Red Wing citizens voted yes to back in April 2016.

The voters showed a commitment to maintaining community-owned infrastructure. The voters showed a commitment to making sure students in Red Wing have what they need. Those building bond tax dollars can only be used for building expenses. Our buildings will be maintained far into the future. Thank you, Red Wing, for your support of our school buildings!

Why another vote?

On Nov. 7, the School Board has requested that the community consider authorizing a local operating levy again. This was done in past years: 2008 and 2012. Our current local operating levy is expiring after the 2018-2019 school year. This tax levy can only be used for our operating budget: staff positions, curriculum, programs, etc. If the levy is not passed, our schools and students will lose over $2 million per year.

We have some changes that we have asked the community voters to consider. These proposed changes in the levy are due to changes in our Red Wing community demographics and in the structure of public school financing. Our Red Wing students and our systems are very different than they were in 2012, and even more of a contrast from 2008.

Four main points:

• Nearly four years ago, we cut our budget by over $2 million — those programs, curriculum, and staff changes have not been added back.

• Our overall student enrollment numbers continue to decline, which means all funding has been decreased — as most funding sources are "per pupil."

• Our students are needing a wider range of programs for every learner.

• Federal and state school funding is not keeping pace with the mandates they impose.

The Red Wing School Board is committed to financial responsibility and stability, and we are committed to doing what is best for all students.

We ask you to please vote on Nov. 7.

Janie Farrar

Red Wing

Janie Farrar is chair of the Red Wing School Board.