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Our Opinion: Trust in DL schools and vote ‘yes’

It comes down to trust.

That’s a tough thing to give away — especially when it involves our money or our children.

On Tuesday, the Detroit Lakes School District will ask voters to entrust them with both.

That’s when the vote on a $59 million school bond referendum will be held to build a new elementary school and provide for several district-wide improvements.

School leaders make the case that serious space issues have been slowly creeping into the schools as enrollment has increased, and according to census data, projections indicate they will continue to get worse.

Questions and doubts always fly around communities when big decisions like this need to be made.

How do we know the space issues are as bad as they say?

How do we know they’ve laid out the plan that makes the most sense?

Isn’t there a less expensive way of doing things?

Everybody and their uncle will have an opinion on an issue that directly impacts so many.  Different ideas will always be thrown out there, inevitably making it impossible to satisfy everyone.

But ultimately only one plan can be chosen. We elected our school board to make these decisions because we believed they were the best ones for the job.

Now, as they do that job, we believe they deserve our trust.  This school board and district leaders have earned it.

Under their leadership, the Detroit Lakes School District is doing quite well.

Some of the state’s educational leaders are visiting DL schools because students here are thriving academically.

The elementary schools have been named “Celebration” schools for state academic achievements and the Middle School and High School are also towards the top of those rankings.

But the school board recognizes that there is more to a student than test scores.

It has implemented healthy initiatives which help give students the tools to also live physically well.

Fiscally, the board has been good stewards of tax payer money. The district’s operating levy is currently at $457 per pupil, compared to the state average of nearly $1,000 per pupil.

Over the past three years, while a withholding of state funding caused many districts to borrow short-term just to pay the bills, residents in the Detroit Lakes School District have seen a decrease in their tax levy by 3.79 percent going into 2014.

There is $4 million in debt remaining on the district’s six buildings, quite manageable for a school district this size.

When the architects hired to assess the costs associated with the proposed project came back with $69 million in estimates, school leaders starting whittling down the list of “wants.”

They formed a citizen’s steering committee that ultimately helped guide them toward a forward-looking plan that “the people” truly wanted, instead of trying to dictate what they needed.

They’ve stood up in front of many groups and community meetings and answered every question thrown at them. They’ve been open and continue to make themselves available.

They’ve held up their end of the deal so far and deserve trust.

On Tuesday, vote yes on the building bond referendum.