I work in a great community.
Despite the high cost of food and fuel, a tax burden that's shifting more and more to local property taxes, and a general concern about the economy and personal well-being, the greater Mankato area citizens voted themselves a tax increase yesterday to build a new elementary school. The $33.5 million dollar construction referendum passed by 400 votes - 53% in favor. There are some other items in the referendum, including purchasing more land for yet another school, remodeling some science classrooms, and putting in an elevator but the big excitement is all about the new elementary building - the first we've built since the early 1970s.
- We are modest in in our requests.
- We are well-known to be very well-run financially (and conservatively), winning awards in this area. We have the lowest administrative overhead and cost-per-pupil expenses in our region.
- We are open and transparent about our finances.
- We are an "education-oriented" community, with four colleges within our school district boundaries.
- We get the support of the local chamber, city government and business organizations. They "get" that good schools are a community development issue.
- Our local paper has always been fair to our schools.
- The anti-referendum letters to the editor made state government the villain in the problem of rising property taxes (as well it is), not the schools. There was never a letter saying we don't NEED a new school, only objections about how education is financed in the state.
Anyway, this is exciting. We already know this will be a "green" school, modeling as many energy efficient technologies as possible. I am hoping the new building will also have a "model" elementary media center that will serve students and staff for the next, uh, hundred years? (We are still using schools built in the 1920s with no plans to stop doing so.)
When's the first planning meeting? I can't wait!