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Readers’ Views

Your voice matters

To the editor:

MCW CARE seeks an alternative bond referendum aimed at enhancing our existing facilities. These structurally sound facilities date back to the 1950s and 1960s, and the district still carries a substantial debt of $7.7 million from previous facility upgrades in 2015 (i.e., new boilers), which will not be fully paid off until 2035. The question that arises is whether it’s financially prudent to tear down something you’re still paying for.

MCW CARE is unwavering in its commitment to ensuring that voters are well-informed about the 2023 bond referendum. To achieve this, we strongly urge you to take the time to explore the resources the school district has provided on its website. The flyers and advertisements we have distributed are carefully crafted based on the data available on the district website, serving as a foundation of information. Nevertheless, we believe it is of the utmost importance for you to dig deeper into the data, offering you a more complete understanding of the referendum and its implications.

Furthermore, we urge you to research similar initiatives in other school districts. For instance, Jackson County Central recently completed an extensive building project which included demolishing a middle school constructed in 1920. They also repurposed the Lakefield facility and added an addition. As a result, JCC maintains facilities in both Jackson, Minn. and Lakefield, Minn. Russell Tyler Ruthton’s 2019 referendum secured $35 million at a 1.9 percent interest rate. We encourage you to reach out to RTR’s Superintendent, David Marlette, to learn how they achieved this budget. It’s worth noting that the buildings they demolished were constructed between 1903 and 1923.

One of the selling points of this referendum was the Ag2School Tax Credit. However, the tax credit is not a guarantee. Senator Rich Draheim had this to say about the Ag2School Tax Credit, “Legislators do not get involved in local referendums; however, the fact is that the School Building Bond Agricultural Credit can change. It could go up or could go down. It could go away. There is no way of knowing the future financial stability of the state. The legislature determines biennial budgets, and we normally change the second fiscal year of the biennial budget.” Senator Draheim is the Chief Author of the 2017 School Building Bond Agricultural Credit.

The district’s plan to renew the operating levy in 2026 at its current level may face challenges due to declining enrollment and the enactment of employment laws. Their predictions project a student population of 554 by June 2028. Reduced enrollment means reduced funding from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE). The Paid Family and Medical Leave Statute and the Earned Sick and Safe Leave Law are both expected to raise operating costs for Minnesota districts, not just MCW. Can taxpayers bear the financial burden of both a bond referendum in 2023 and a likely elevated operating levy in 2026?

Each situation is unique, and it’s vital to understand the intricacies of our local challenges and aspirations. Your voice matters, and we encourage you to exercise your civic duty by casting your vote on Nov. 7, 2023. Your participation is vital to shaping the future of each town within the district.

Donny Faber

MCW CARE Committee

Sherburn

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