Letter: ‘Significant’ school needs aren’t going away

To the Editor-

I am writing this letter as a 30-year resident of the Stevens Point Area Public School District and NOT on behalf of the school board.

As a member of our local school board, I joined my colleagues in voting unanimously to place two referendum questions on the November 6 ballot. As a district resident, I have already voted “yes” and “yes” in support of the referendum questions because I believe additional funding is needed to address serious operational and facilities needs of our local public schools.

This past week the school board passed two operational budgets, one if the operational referendum passes and one if it fails. If it fails, the district will be facing an operational deficit budget of $900,000+ with respect to existing programming.

The district needs to be proactive in creating a sustainable budget moving forward that supports continued recruitment, retention and development of the amazing staff we have been blessed with (in a current climate of incredible shortage of teachers and all other vital staff the district depends on day by day—bus drivers, educational and administrative assistants, custodians, food service workers), the creation of appropriate technology and preventive maintenance budgets, and the creation of essential support systems that will allow the district to enhance the ability to achieve its mission to “Prepare Each Student To Be Successful”. Vote “yes” on the Operational Budget Question.

The significant structural deferred maintenance issues facing our 20+ buildings aren’t going away and need to be addressed. The serious safety and security issues facing many of our buildings need immediate attention. The remodeling of many of our buildings to meet the current needs of students and workforce development (tech-ed expansion and upgrading at SPASH) are essential to the success of local students and our community. Vote “yes” on the Bonding Referendum Question.

We are the lowest-spending district among comparable districts in our area and below the state average of spending for our local public schools. If we pass both referendum questions, we will still be the lowest spending district among comparable districts in our area and below the state average of spending.

Our community is blessed with amazing schools and incredible staff members who make a difference day by day in the lives of individual students and families. Our students are the employees and entrepreneurs and business owners and volunteers and leaders for our community now and for the future. Your “yes” votes on November 6 will be a vote for your belief in our local public students, staff, and schools.

Meg Erler
Stevens Point