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Support the Lake Park-Audubon School operating levy

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opinion Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Residents of the Lake Park-Audubon School District should vote yes Nov. 3 on the proposed new operating levy.

The district has been frugal with its money and has found itself in need of a higher operating levy through no fault of its own.

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Over the past eight years, state funding has not kept pace with inflation, leaving the school district in a bind.

The district will ask residents on Nov. 3 to approve a seven-year, $750-per-student operating levy referendum.

That would replace the current operating levy of $500 per student that expires next year. It would cost the owner of a $100,000 homestead about $39 per year.

The current operating levy brings in about $343,000 per year.

That would increase to about $515,000 per year if the new levy is approved.

It may not seem like it's worth a trip to the polls on Nov. 3, but supporters should make the extra effort -- this levy is very important to the school district.

The extra money will enable the district to stave off more big budget cuts and to maintain its educational excellence.

An operating levy should not be confused with the building bond levy that has been on the ballot several times in the past few years.

The district is not seeking voter approval for new or improved school buildings, it is asking for support for its day-to-day operations.

The superintendent and two principals have agreed to a wage freeze, and the school board is asking teachers to follow suit.

Board members understand that it's difficult to ask residents for more money in these troubled economic times, but they didn't have much choice: Lake Park-Audubon has an excellent academic reputation, and the money is needed to continue with that quality of education.

LP-A had to make $270,000 in cuts this year, and this levy increase is badly needed.

If it fails, the district will see higher numbers of students in classrooms and a diminished quality of educational services. It will become more difficult to meet student needs, and some needs will not be met, causing student performance to diminish.

To make ends meet, the district will have to reduce personnel and reassign responsibilities. Programs will have to be reduced or eliminated completely. Technology and other purchases will be put off into the future.

In other words, this money will be directly responsble for providing a good education to the kids at LP-A.

Remember, taxes that go to the school district make up just a small amount of the overall property tax bill.

In Lake Park, for example, the owner of a $100,000 residential homestead has a total property tax bill of $647, but only $130 of that goes to the school district.

We urge residents to vote yes on Nov. 3.

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