Chad Wolsky, Minot
In December, Minot voters will have a choice regarding the direction of our public school system. Opponents of the school bond issue would argue that we cannot afford more taxes, especially while recovering from the flood of 2011. This viewpoint is both uninformed and inaccurate.
Regardless of whether we like the growth that is taking place in this community, it is here to stay at least for awhile. Even conservative forecasters suggest that it will not only continue, but increase. I appreciate our local school board's efforts to manage a very challenging situation. Who among us could have predicted the type of explosive growth our city is experiencing? Our teachers, administrators and our school board have been doing their best to react to the increased student population with outdated infrastructure and an outdated budget. It's time for us to give them a little more support.
As a community, we have not invested in new school infrastructure to any significant extent since 1974. That fact alone is disturbing given the dramatic changes in the way we educate students. Despite the changes in education and in our community, our school board has done their best to meet the needs of our students with patchwork to the infrastructure and portable classrooms. As a taxpayer, I appreciate their efforts to respond proactively to these challenges with the proposed bond issue. The alternative is that our community will end up with a much lower quality educational system that will cost all of us a lot more money. In fact, the school board identified much greater need than the proposed bond issue would cover and has prioritized only the most immediate needs.
Opponents of the bond issue are using misinformation and scare tactics in an attempt to diminish support for the school board proposal. I would challenge any that oppose the current proposal to come up with a better solution. The reality is that there is not a better solution certainly not one on the table. Please ask those that would vote against this proposal what the costs will be in 3-5 years if we don't do something now? Will the costs of construction go down or will they increase dramatically like they have in the past 5 years? What about the cost of borrowing money? Will it go down or will it go up? Ask them about the noneconomic damages to the community and to the students that are educated here if we don't invest now. What is the cost of overcrowded, outdated schools and failure to address some of the security concerns? Opponents of the bond issue won't be able to respond because there is not a counter argument. Is their solution to continue placing inefficient portable structures around all of our schools? Deferred maintenance has never been an effective strategy and will only end up costing all of us more in the future.
If the bond issue is passed, property taxes will increase by small increments annually. At most, taxes will still be lower than what we paid in 2012 by almost 10 percent. Personally, I don't want to pay more in taxes and the idea of giving more to "government" is frightening. However, what is our alternative? Visit any of our local schools and you will conclude that the status quo is not acceptable. Successful communities invest in education and make it a priority. Look across our state, our region, our country, and our world and I believe you will find this to be a universal truth.
Those of you that have followed Minot High School extracurricular activities probably realize that we have the largest student population in the state yet we are not the most successful by any measure. An additional high school gives twice as many students an opportunity to participate in all extracurricular activities. It is impossible to argue that more opportunities for students in athletics, music, theater and everything else could somehow be a bad thing. Look at the success that Bismarck has in almost every activity with class sizes that are a third of ours here in Minot.
In summary, please vote yes in support of the school bond issue in Minot. A vote against this will only delay what our educational leaders know needs to take place. It is essential that we act and move forward in order to maintain Minot's long term health.