To the Editor:
Next week, Fairmont residents will make an important decision regarding Fairmont Area Schools. The referendum on Nov. 6 is to support the future of our schools.
The staff realizes this is a difficult decision, especially in these tight economic times. However, the alternative is not good if the referendum fails.
Diane Gerhardt, school board member, has been making multiple presentations regarding the finances of the district at various locations in our community. She has highlighted the positive things happening in our district; what we will gain if the referendum passes, explaining the lack of financial resources from the state and its impact on our local district; and what will happen if the referendum fails. Yes, we have a state-of-the-art elementary facility as well as a beautiful secondary facility, but our district is only as good as what happens inside these buildings. Presently, we have a well-balanced academic program and excellent teaching staff. However, this could all change if the referendum fails.
In talking to colleagues around the state, many are envious of what we have in the way of program offerings. That is why we can boast a good academic and extracurricular program to others. It has taken years to develop programs for our students and we would hate to see them eliminated or cutback. Yes, it will cost each of us more, but isn't our future, our students, worth the extra dollars? The modest increase in local property taxes of about $100 per year for the average home will only allow our school district to maintain our current programs for the next five years.
Presently, some classes are sitting with 32 to 36 students in a room; some classes have outdated textbooks; some class offerings cannot be offered because of the shortage of staff; and the list goes on and on.
I have been teaching in the Fairmont Area Schools for a number of years and am proud to say I teach in Fairmont. We have a well-rounded, well-balanced educational system and would hate to see the programs/classes that have been eliminated remain so, as this will have a direct impact on our students and the community as a whole.
Fairmont has been fortunate to have two Minnesota teachers of the year - 2011 and 2012 - visit our city. Both said how impressed they were with our community, facilties and the programs we offer. They even commented that they wish their community had the offerings and facilities Fairmont has. When you have the state's best educators make a comment like this, it is a direct reflection on the community support we have for our schools.
Please take the time to vote Nov. 6. Your vote does count to reinstate the programs eliminated by the school board due to lack of funding.
I am writing this letter on behalf of the teachers.
Bob Millette, president,
Education Minnesota Fairmont