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School improvement plan is wise investment in students

Guest Opinion
Katie Baustian, Luverne School Board member

With the new school year off to a successful start, now is a good time to talk about the school board’s long-range plan to meet the facility needs of students, teachers and the community.
Luverne School District residents will decide whether to move forward with the school district’s building improvement plan on Nov. 7.
It is important that district residents are familiar with what is included in the plan and how the plan was developed.
With input from local residents, and building assessment from independent experts, the school board went about developing this plan cautiously. We focused on only what was needed and finding the most efficient way to make the necessary improvements.
Just like you need to paint your house and repair your roof and sometimes add on to meet your family’s needs, periodically schools need to be invested in to remain viable today and into the future. It’s time again for our community to invest in its schools. 
Two decades ago, we built a new elementary school. Now that the bonds for the elementary school are about to be paid off, we are focusing on investments that need to be made in our 61-year-old middle/high school.
Fortunately, the school building doesn’t need to be replaced. We just need to make some renovations and repairs.
The School Board plan focuses on health and safety, technology access, constructing a new middle/high school cafeteria and renovation and expansions to make middle school classrooms large enough to meet today’s education needs.
It also adds three classrooms to the elementary school and renovates space to make room for special education and community education classes to meet demand.
We also ask district residents in a second ballot question if we should build a new 700- to 800-seat performing arts center to be used by elementary and middle school/high school students for presentations, musical and theater performances.
This center would really become a hub for the entire community, available for presentations, performances and other purposes.
Because we are just finishing up with paying off the elementary school bonds from 20 years ago, the tax impact if voters approve both ballot measures is pretty low.
For agricultural homestead property valued at $10,000 an acre, because of the new state tax credit, the monthly increase is 14 cents per acre above what is currently being paid.
For owners of a home valued at $100,000, it will only cost $5.58 more per month than what is being paid now for school property taxes.
I am passionate about our students and our community that we all call home, and I and other board members believe that this plan is a good investment for district taxpayers.
Strong schools make for a stronger community and investing in these improvements makes good sense for our entire community.
District residents will determine the outcome, and I hope you agree that this is a good investment for current students and for generations to come.
The other school board members and I encourage community engagement and discussion of this plan.
We also encourage all district residents to visit the school district website at to find out more about our school building needs and how the school board plan addresses them.
Early voting began on Sept. 22. Contact the Rock County Auditor at 507-283-5060 for more information.
The school vote takes place during the General Election Nov. 7 at the Luverne High School gymnasium. Polls are open that day from 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Every school district needs to invest in buildings to maintain their value and their ability to provide what students, teachers and the community need.
Please take time to find out about the school district’s plan and the very real needs it addresses. I believe you will agree that this plan is a wise investment in our students, our schools and our community.
Katie Baustian is the current chairperson of the Luverne Public Schools Board of Education.

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