Community Forum gets 3,000 views in 10 days

March 17, 2008

By Lynda Jensen

The new Community Forum hosted by Herald Journal garnered 3,021 views in the first 10 days of operation, which amounts to one third of the total traffic for its blogs in the last six months.

The counter continues to roll, with a total number of views at 5,117 as of Monday.

This week, the mail-in ballot being planned for Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted was a hot topic of discussion; although there were numerous other subjects being discussed, such as constructive conversation on whether to medicate children for Attention Deficit Disorder, and quick getaway suggestions in Minnesota.

Comments about the mail-in ballot dominated both the blog and forum, with one blog poster asking “What is the cost per pupil at HLWW and how does that compare to other schools in the area? How does it compare to the area private schools? Demographic reports show that elementary enrollment for rural MN will begin dropping off dramatically starting next year. Have those figures been taken into account?”

HLWW Supt. George Ladd responded to this question on the blog by posting the following answer: “We have comparisons by school size, not by local area schools. In 2005-06, the latest information available from the state, HLWW was at $7,888 per pupil. We believe (the state) has reduced it to $7,524 this year. Schools our size average $8,061, and the state average is $8,069.

“We are between rural and metro area schools. According to our own study from birth to 5 year-olds, the number of students eligible for kindergarten are 125 to 146 students for the next five years. Knowing not all students come to HLWW, we feel we are stable and/or growing for the next five years,” Ladd noted.

A sample of forum comments included the following, from local people:

• “Maybe school districts, like all levels of government, need to learn to live within their budgets. DC just passed a levy, one month after it passed there the teachers were with their hand out, ‘where is ours.’ It happens every time a levy is passed, people in private employment have to earn their raises, teachers do not.

“They get automatic yearly increases, and then they get raises based on steps and leads. None of these are based on performance.

• “First off, the DC teachers were not there with their hands out asking for raises one month after the levy passed. The teachers there, like all other teachers, are members of a union and their contract was set for renewal by the end of the year, like all other teachers.

“This happens every two years as that is the length of their contracts. This negotiation would have happened whether the levy was passed or not. In the private sector there are many union jobs that the members are given automatic raises as set by their contract and are not based on merit.

“Why are teachers singled out as the only union that is scrutinized by the public for what they get paid? Many of the other government jobs are also unionized or set on a pay scale and are paid the same way not based on merit.

“Why are they not scrutinized the same? As for the levy, people need to vote as they can afford. The saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If an extra $100 put into education today will keep someone out of jail tomorrow because he/she is a productive citizen in society, can’t we afford to do that instead of paying thousands for them to sit in jail?

“Studies have shown that educated people make more money, are more productive citizens, and are less likely to break the law.”

• “Right now the schools are bursting at the seams. That is one of the reasons why we needed a new high school (at HLWW). The elementary schools are full next year I hear that they are looking at putting the fifth grade in at Howard Lake in the old elementary school. I think Dist. 2687 gets about $330 per pupil unit.

“Their text scores are good, but as a community, it is up to US to make the district a little bit better. If this don’t pass look for larger class size like 30 to 40 kids per classroom. The board is very reasonable with the taxpayers’ money.

“It is running a business, just like any other business. Sometimes the prices go up. I used to spend $250 for groceries in a month (no meat no milk, just cereal frozen food and baking supplies and snacks). Now it cost me $350 and nobody asked if they could raise the price on that stuff. Now the state is raising gas tax? WE AS A COMMUNITY NEED TO JUST DO THIS.”

To join the discussion about the mail-in ballot on the forum, click here.
To visit the blog that talks about class sizes increasing, click here.

A forum means it’s your turn

Unlike a blog, the forum allows online readers to create their own discussion subjects. Simply click on the “new topic” button to start a new conversation. All discussion, both topics and comments, are moderated.

There is a very simple, first-time registration process. To join the discussion – or if you are simply curious about the comments from others – click here. To see Mark Ollig's top web site pick of the week, click here.

Do you know more about this subject, or have a comment? E-mail news@hjpub.com