Readers’ Views

School Referendum aimed to address financial challenges

To the Editor:

If you have been following the news for the last few years, it is no surprise the MCW School District has been dealing with financial and facility challenges. These challenges are similar to those many school districts, especially rural school districts, across the state and country are experiencing. The greatest challenge is funding. We don’t receive enough money per students to meet our needs and the state requirements. We have a declining enrollment, as many others across the state are also experiencing. This in turn reduces the amount of money we receive from the state. We have aging buildings that require updates that are expensive.

As a school district, our number one priority is to safely and effectively prepare our students to become the productive workforce and contributing citizens of tomorrow for generations to come. Therefore, we want to ensure we have the needed funds for supplies and resources and the very best teachers in our classrooms.

We have spent months, hundred of hours, and countless meetings considering various options to solve the problem. Rest assured; it is not simple. Do more with less. Hire the best. Provide quality programs for students. Ensure the schools are secure so students and staff are safe. Keep the buildings operating. Be sensitive to residents’ taxes.

Each of these issues has been thoughtfully considered as we came to the conclusion that a one-school solution is the most fiscally responsible solution for both the district’s operations and the taxpayer. A new school to house all our students will save the district money. We will be operating more efficiently. We project the savings will be approximately $1.3 million a year. This savings will allow us to spend money on the right things, quality teachers and needed programming. Right now, we are operating more space than we need, paying staff travel and bussing costs, and repairing old, inefficient systems. We realized we have to make a big decision, to solve a big problem.

I continue to hear residents suggest that an operating referendum to only deal with the budget deficit is a better solution. It is not. An operating referendum would cost taxpayers nearly the same (and in some cases more) to continue to operate as we are. An operating referendum would also not be eligible for funds through the Ag2School tax credit. This is not a good use of anyone’s money. It does not allow us to become more efficient. It does not allow us to reduce duplication of staff and resources. It does not allow us to stop paying for daily bussing back and forth between buildings. It does not allow us to stop paying staff that have to drive back and forth between schools when they could be working with students. It does not allow us the funds to fix building systems (heating, plumbing) when they break. It simply spends taxpayer money to push the problem further down the road. Pushing the problem down the road will only lead to the necessary project costing more in the long run.

The proposed plan (to build one new preK-12 building to house all students and staff) is the best option for fiscal sustainability of the MCW school district. This option will provide quality learning spaces and programs for all students, and maximize operating efficiencies throughout the district.

While I know that change is hard, I can assure you that careful consideration to all options was given as this plan was developed and chosen. If you have question, please attend the open house from 5-7 p.m. on April 29 at the high school, call (507) 764-2330 or email buildingproject@mcwmavericks.org.

Laura Borchardt


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