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Now is the time to make improvements to DL schools

Band Aids are often quite useful, but a box full will not fix the problems that face the Detroit Lakes Public Schools. Adding a few classrooms here and there as some suggest will do nothing to alleviate traffic and safety concerns or overcrowding. Increasing the student populations at Rossman and Roosevelt will leave the schools worse off than before. With many more students added to each building, they will continue to have insufficient libraries, gyms, cafeterias, computer labs and outdoor spaces to support the classes. The congestion will remain and other monumental problems left unresolved.

One comment that I often hear is, “Can we afford to do this?” This is a legitimate question for residents to ask. Here is my reply; in the last six years the District’s buildings have increased in insured value 55 percent to $103 million due to inflation and capital investments. It is my opinion that after all the bond issue projects are completed, the insured value of the District will be very close to $200,000,000 with a $59,000,000 mortgage. This could be proportionately compared to a home valued at $200,000 with a $59,000 mortgage or a $100,000 home with a $29,500 mortgage. If you own a $100,000 home in the District your associated cost of the bond will be $11 a month or $28 a month for a $200,000 home. I think this is affordable and I believe our District is well worth this investment. Just so you are aware, I own and pay taxes on two homes in Detroit Lakes.

Also, we are not the only ones voting on a bond election this fall. There are 25 school districts in Minnesota with bond elections in November and several are more costly than ours.

Whether you support this fall’s bond election or not does not make you good or bad. But if you are interested in this issue and plan on voting, I can tell you that this proposal was long discussed and thoroughly thought out. I had the privilege of working for the school district for over 22 years and can tell you the School Board and Administrators both past and present have done all they can to keep your taxes low as possible. We are currently under the State average for operations levied per student. As you prepare to vote remember this bond election will affect more of our students on a wider range of ages than any voted upon in the last 60 years.

Each generation has been asked to step up to the plate in support of their local school system. People did it in the 1890’s, the 1930’s, the 1950’s, the 1970’s and the 1990’s. Can you believe our Grandparents built a new High School during the Great Depression? Now it is our turn to step up and I encourage you to join me and support this election. Our local School Board, whom we trusted and elected, asks once again for your help and cooperation to put our school system back on a solid foundation. Now is the time to do this right. A Band Aid approach just will not work. — Ben Weekley, Detroit Lakes