Local school district needs to be realistic in planning

Local schools have made their position well known in the past couple of years. A leap in the number of students – middle school students in particular – has prompted a campaign for an additional school or schools.

Reality checks:

– Raising taxes for virtually anything is a go-nowhere proposal here, now. Residents are struggling now because of a rapid increase in property taxes – an increase necessitated by bad policy by city government in the past that foolishly used ephemeral sales tax to pay for essential services instead of the same reasoned, property tax increase most communities endure when demand exceeds resources. Blame our previous leaders who thought this was a good idea. The current council and administration had nothing to do with that.

While Minot schools are good, as a result of those high property taxes, a new school bond issuance is unlikely to pass.

– Local school needs are based on an increased number of students, particularly middle school students. However, logistically, this appears to be a result of the population boom of the past – new families moving in as a result of the Bakken boom. Population studies now demonstrate a diminishing population. How logical is it to invest a lot of money preparing for ongoing growth when there is zero reason to believe it is going to happen. There is no impetus for population growth today.

– Portable class rooms do not reflect inferior education. They are used by schools all over the United States and yet we don’t exactly lead the nation in student achievement. It’s not an honest argument.

– Student-to-teacher ratios here are already better than they are in many states – notably states that do well on student achievement and produce many Ivy League students.

Perhaps, the focus needs to be on maintaining existing schools so that they remain local and neighborhood so parents aren’t expected to deal with students being shipped across town.

While it is fine to look ahead at anticipated need, that needs to be a long-term look, not a look at a year or two down the line. Investing heavily in short-term needs without any solid, real evidence of a long-term need isn’t financially responsible or reactive to taxpayer needs. It is over-reach.

Whether discussed locally or at the state level, Minot schools need to be realistic and with sensitivity to taxpayer concerns. The latter group foots the bill and their long-term needs should be paramount.

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