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Perham businesses push for school levy approval

Signs supporting the Perham school levy referendum are posted around the city.

Many in the Perham business community are pushing for residents to pass a school levy referendum on Tuesday, November 2.

A general steering committee and several subcommittees have been meeting for weeks with hope of getting information out to the public so they can make an informed decision, according to Bryan Tusow of Dawson Home Mortgage.

"I think the business community realizes the importance of passing this levy," he said. "It's not just about the health of the school, it's for the health of the community."

Tusow, who spoke for the steering committee, said that hundreds of informational pamphlets, signs, window clings, and bumper stickers have been printed and distributed. He said there has been "overwhelming support" for the initiative.

The goal is to get the facts out into the public, Tusow said, so voters will make an informed decision.

"We aren't asking to purchase luxuries," he said. "We're asking for what's needed."

A five year, three part question will be presented to voters at their regular polling places. The first part asks for $595 per pupil. The money will be spent on smaller class sizes for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. The first part must pass for the second and third parts to pass. The second part asks for $195 per student, which will be spent to buy teaching supplies such as textbooks and computers. The third part asks for $195 per student for building maintenance and repairing leaking roofs.

According to the school's website, the largest computer lab has 30 computers, and "consistently there are more students than there are working computers."

Rising class sizes are up because of staff cuts to contain costs, according to school staff.

Also according to the school's website, if the levy does not pass, reductions will continue. Past reductions included cuts to music, foreign language, vocational core, college prep and college credit classes.

What is scaring school officials and many in the business community is additional cuts from the state if the levy doesn't pass. Schools are funded by the state, and since 2003, Minnesota Public Schools have received a 13 percent decrease in funding, according to the school's website.