To the Editor:
I am a resident of New Ulm but happened to see a copy of the cuts Fairmont Area Schools made for the 2013-2014 budget period. It was shocking to see that all sports and co-curriculars would be eliminated.
We are facing similar issues in New Ulm and will vote on a referendum to add funding to save programs in our school system too. As a retired owner of a real estate brokerage and being involved in land development for 35 years, I no longer have children in the public school system. But I do know how critical a strong school system is for the health of a community.
"Location, location, location." Even folks who aren't in the business of real estate have heard this phrase, which emphasizes an important consideration for people buying property - "location." When people consider moving to a community, they consider location and their quality of life. That includes schools.
Fairmont voters will determine the future of their schools/community as they consider the proposed referendum to help make up for inadequate state funding. Many people will vote "yes" for the sake of their children and quality education; others will be concerned about the increase in property taxes. That concern is certainly legitimate, but the ramifications of not adequately funding an educational system is also frightening.
A significant economic consideration is the "cost" of not maintaining a quality school system. I have seen the impact in New Ulm at local large industries and businesses when they have attempted to attract quality employees. I am aware of a local large industry in New Ulm failing to land its first, second or third choice for a management position because those people felt the local school district had been forced to reduce its programming to a level less than what they expected.
As a community becomes less attractive to individuals, because the school system is not providing opportunities such as orchestra, speech or sports programs, home values will decline because demand shrinks. If Fairmont schools suffer, the city will become a much less attractive location for people. Over time, that could result in fewer taxpayers to help share in the cost of maintaining needed city services. On the other hand, maintaining quality educational opportunities will become an asset that will attract new families, businesses and industry to your community. Most critically, it will help retain current families, businesses and industries.
I hope you vote "yes" on Nov. 6 to pass the referendum. I don't think you can afford not to.