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Letter: Restore academic funding, vote 'yes' and 'yes'

To the editor:

Good things happen in public schools every day. I believe that with all my heart. I'm not just talking about the huge amount of academic learning going on but also how our staff responds to all the other needs of our students. We need your support for our students and staff to reduce the need for future cuts.

Public education is the greatest endeavor this country undertakes — transforming students' lives so that we can build up our communities. Most Minnesota school districts must ask for additional local support to close the gap between the actual inflationary rate of 13.8 percent in costs and the 9.5 percent increase in state aid over the past several years.

I sit on the district finance committee. We review data every month. We build our five-year plan using updated enrollment projections, monitoring proposals coming before the legislature which could impact our bottom line, and overseeing the annual budget including fluctuations in revenues and expenditures. This learning levy request is meant to sustain current district operations while adjusting to enrollment changes. Your local school board must always balance the needs of the students with financial resources.

The School Board is committed to being good stewards of community resources. We deeply appreciate the community's reinvestment in our school buildings by passing the facility referendum in 2016. Thank you for your trust. Those funds have repaired roofs, parking lots, pipes, and building exteriors; addressed Americans with Disabilities Act needs; upgraded communications systems; and improved building security.

But those funds may not be used for instructional purposes. We need to restore the curriculum and technology budgets that were cut drastically when the board made the difficult decision to cut $2.4 million to balance the budget.

Please help us move forward to provide our students with the education they deserve and the resources we need to build up our community. Vote Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Heidi K. Jones

Red Wing

Heidi Jones is a board member for Red Wing Public Schools.