Letter: Community will be ‘proud’ to have passed district referenda

To the Editor-

In 1993, I was hired as an elementary school principal in the Stevens Point Area Public School District, a role in which I still serve with great pride.

A NOT so wonderful event which took place the same year was the imposition of a school spending limit on all Wisconsin school districts. If a school district was a frugal district in 1992, (which the Stevens Point Area Public School District was), they were frozen at a lower school spending limit than districts which were higher spending districts.

This school district spending gap has remained since then because any spending increases given by the state were given to all districts to the same degree. The state legislature has said many times since then, “If you need more money than you get from us, ask your community to pass a referendum”.

Numerous school districts across the state have done just that—successfully. That is what we are doing now—and we most assuredly need it.

I am proud of the excellent work that our teachers, school support staff, school district staff, administration, and parents do every day to provide an outstanding education for our students. I am, however, very concerned about the financial situation our school district finds itself in, which has resulted in our need to go to the community to pass two very important referendum questions.

Our school district has been forced to “make do” since our last two referenda failed in 2009 and 2010. We need the funds the school board is asking from the school district’s taxpayers in order to keep this school district—and community—the excellent place it is to live, learn, work and play.

While the dollar amounts are large in and of themselves, I ask that you please focus on these key points: 1) Two-thirds of the funds asked for in Question 2 are needed just to repair and replace infrastructure items that have been put off since 2009. 2) These funds and the remaining Question 2 funds will be put to use across the entire school district to make needed repairs and upgrades on all schools and district facilities, to make them safe and appropriate for our children. 3) If Question 1 fails, we will be without funding for technology, we will have no funds to maintain our facilities, and—most critically–we will very likely have to reduce programs and lay off teachers. 4) While the dollar amounts are large, when spread out amongst all taxpayers, the impact is minimal—especially when compared with the task of disassembling (and continuing to watch crumble) a school district we have been so proud of for so many years.

Please vote yes on both school district questions on Nov. 6th. I believe you will be proud that you did.

Carl Coffman

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