Nov. 7 referendum asks district residents to 'make a difference'

Guest Editorial

I’ve worked in schools for 30 years and every fall I am impressed and inspired by the energy of students when they come back to school. It’s an exciting time of year for the kids, for parents and for teachers.

The theme for this school year is “Purpose, Passion, Pride … Making a Difference.” Educating students and building relationships to prepare young people for the world is our purpose and we take it very seriously.

I have challenged our staff to bring even more passion to their work and in everything that they do to help students grow as citizens. Luverne has great pride as a community and we want to instill that pride in our students as well.

The idea of making a difference is essential to education. We strive for that every day as educators. The key is to talk about it and be intentional about making a difference in everything that we do.

The school board is proposing building improvements to continue the tremendous history of quality education here in Luverne. They have identified, with the help of community members, areas within our school that need to be addressed to keep making a difference for our students.

School district residents will vote Nov. 7 on the school board’s plan to make necessary improvements to our school buildings. Voters will be asked two questions.

The first question focuses on the school board’s plan to complete health and safety upgrades to both school buildings, including making the pick-up/drop-off area safer at the elementary school and making the entrance to the middle school/high school secure from unauthorized visits.

The plan also calls for three classroom additions in the elementary building to accommodate growing demand for instructional space and renovations to address technology access and provide adequate space for special education, school and nurse offices and community education/Family U.

At the middle school/high school, the plan includes renovations and expansion to create classrooms, labs and music instruction and physical education areas. These improvements will create the right spaces with the right technology access for students to learn their best.

The plan also adds a new middle school/high school cafeteria big enough to accommodate the number of students who need to be served and accessible to students and others with disabilities.

This space will also be used outside of lunch times as a commons area for group projects and presentations. The old cafeteria, which is in the basement with small windows and little natural light, will be upgraded with drain tile to reduce water issues and become a room for sports programs.

A second question on the ballot asks residents whether they wish to build a performing arts center on the school campus for school presentations, musical and theater events, and other community uses.

Local residents were instrumental in assisting the school board in developing their plan by identifying priority needs and seeking solutions through surveys and community meetings held in the district last spring and summer. I believe the plan meets educational needs while being cost-conscious.

Because of the debt from expiring bonds and the new tax credit for agricultural properties, the net tax impact over current payments is modest. If both ballot measures are approved, the monthly tax increase for a home valued at $100,000 is less than $6.

Home and business property owners can find out more about their tax impact on the district website.

Agricultural property owners should call Ehlers, Inc., the district’s financial consultant, at 1-800-552-1171 for specific tax impact information for their property.

Local residents will decide on Nov. 7 whether or not we go ahead with the building improvements proposed by the school board. I encourage you to visit the school district website at http://www.isd2184.net/ to find out more about needs in our school building and how the plan addresses them.

If you have additional questions or comments, please send me an email at c.oftedahl@isd2184.net or give me a call at 507-283-8088. Go Cardinals!

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