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End Pelican school's 'Ground Hog Day dilemma'; Vote yes

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Do you remember the movie "Ground Hog Day" starring Bill Murray? It came out about 20 years ago. The story centers on Bill Murray waking up each day to relive the day before, Ground Hog Day. Things get worse and worse each day with each new same day until he gets events on that day right. We are now looking at three Levy votes in eighteen months. I keep thinking this is my personal "Ground Hog Day" adventure.

Two years ago the School Board could see there was a financial "train wreck" on the horizon. Even in the complicated world of school finance we could tell that if something didn't change the school would be in a serious situation within a few years. Because voter approved money can take up to two years to get into the school budget, we knew something had to be done soon. Two things happened. The budget was cut and we looked to the voters for help. This same situation occurred last summer and it will happen again this summer. But, the problem we could see two years ago has only become more difficult to manage because all the tools to fix it are still not available. We really are running out of acceptable options.

As a School Board member I have always felt that our job is to run the school in a fiscally conservative manor and still provide a quality education to the students. In the current state of the economy this is a difficult thing to do. As a Board we discuss and review financial details of our budget on a monthly basis. It is our job to understand these details and predict future trends and make projections. We are bound by law and duty to present the facts to the public and make responsible decisions based on those facts. The bottom line is the School Board has a fiduciary responsibility to keep this school functioning at a high level without wasting money. This is being done. There is no doubt that we as a School Board are the experts on this school's financial situation.

You would think that after three levy attempts everyone would understand we really do have a money problem in our district. This is not a problem of mismanagement, wasted money or overstaffing. It simply boils down to the state not following through on its constitutional responsibility to provide fair and equal education to all. Look at the generous funding formula schools in the Metro area operate under. This really is becoming a situation of the have's verses the have-nots with rural schools taking the backseat. We all know that when the State doesn't do its job the responsibility falls back on us. I've always felt individuals are more responsible than the State. There should be no doubt that right now the only group that can immediately help our school is the responsible voters of this district.

I believe it is extremely important to vote each time there is an opportunity. Voting is our constitutional responsibility. But it is also your individual responsibility to understand the issues and make a voting decision based on good information. Through all the rhetoric of the past 18 months I have yet to hear one good argument against more local tax funding that can be backed up with true facts. This does not mean this tax is painless. Clearly it is painful and especially for those folks who are burdened by escalating lakeshore values. I really do believe some of these people shoulder excessive taxes because of the county and state's property assessment formula. I personally feel that tax pain also. But that pain "comes with the territory" of community responsibility and personal sacrifice for our children.

One thing that really bothers me is a recently made statement that the levy should be voted down to send a message to our politicians. This is the same as saying we will sacrifice your children and hold them hostage until we get our way with tax law. Please leave our children out of that argument. Isn't it always the weak that suffer the most? It is now time to end our "Ground Hog Day" dilemma and support more levy funding. If it does not pass, nothing will be solved and the Board, regardless of who is on it, will have no choice but to bring it back for another vote.

The School Board has done its "due diligence" in this regard. You either believe we are the experts and have the best interests of the community in hand or you believe those who use half facts and untruths to intimidate and scare the voters. The decision is yours. But remember, this is not a game. These are "big boy" issues. Your vote counts. I know what the right action is and that will govern my decisions both as a voter and as school board member. -- Charlie Blixt, Pelican Rapids School Board Member

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