HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
November 20, 2006, Herald Journal

Education has become a gamble

By KRISTEN MILLER

I wasn’t shocked to find out that the levy didn’t pass, however, I was disappointed. Having only been in the community for one year, I am still learning the history of the Dassel Cokato community. In that year, I have reported on two levies, both of them failures.

I am concerned for the future of the district, and my sympathy goes out to the board members, who have to make the ultimate decision to cut $300,000. Also by voting it down, the school lost more than $360,000 in state aid since the state would’ve matched the money from the taxpayers.

What I am also concerned about is that the average resident in the DC area would not invest $53 a year for the future of the children in this great community. That is only $1 per week.

I’m pretty sure I couldn’t find anything better to get with a dollar a week. You can’t even get a pack of gum for a dollar anymore, but it can give students more one-on-one teacher interaction, better class offerings for all, including the advanced students, and school safety. Wow! Talk about bang for your buck.

A large part of what makes this community successful and attractive is the school district. People move here, not because of the job opportunities, but because of the educational opportunities for their children.

They commute for their kids so they can have a better opportunity for education. Out-of-towners enroll their children at DC because of what the district offers, while paying taxes to their hometown districts.

I had the opportunity to visit another local high school/middle school recently for a program and I realized how well-behaved the DC students are and how lucky I am to be working with such students. Students don’t just come that way – they are taught that way. The DC community should be proud of the education it provides and its students.

I’m scared for the district. Now there will even less opportunities for kids and less support for the families of the district.

I understand the hard feelings some voters may have about the district coming to them with levies and bonds. Currently, there are three bonds which go toward the new facilities, but there is no longer any money going toward education.

When it comes down to it, who do we have to blame but the Minnesota legislature. Schools don’t have the financial support from the state which has forced the district to ask its taxpayers to take on that responsibility. As a voter, you shouldn’t be mad at the district, but instead, the state. This has left the districts no choice but to take a gamble on education and pray for a “yes” vote.

Throughout the community I have heard complaints about the way the district spends its money. Some feel the board is tricky and does things under the table. If this is a concern, why aren’t there more people attending school board meetings to find out for themselves what the board is actually doing? The board will answer any questions the audience members may have.

Also many of the residents have been complaining about a vote that was passed four years ago for a building that brings in out-of-towners and their dollars. But I can almost guarantee half of the ‘no’ voters have been in that PAC at least once.

Now, because of hostilities from the past, the future of the students will suffer.

After this year, DC will be a part of the 10 percent of schools in the state without a levy in place. It’s unfortunate the school must depend on a vote to be able to teach and give good educational opportunities, but I guess that’s what it comes down to. We shouldn’t have to gamble for education.