Letter: Here's why I'm voting no on the Frazee School referendum
I recently attended a presentation by the Frazee-Vergas School District staff on the upcoming bond referendum. I listened with interest as they explained how the proposed construction was primarily for the safety and security of the students.
While I agree that the safety of our kids is and should always be a top priority, I left the meeting thinking the plan presented was considerably off the mark and investing too much into what I'd categorize as athletics and entertainment.
I was also somewhat surprised that the current plan isn't dramatically
different than the previous referendum other than instead of three questions
on the ballot, the district has now rolled up the two previously failed
options into one big $25 million question.
That question will result in a 30% tax increase for me if it passes, so I wanted to understand how the funds in question are being used to improve the safety and education of students. In reviewing the cost breakdown the district graciously provided me, it appears to my eyes that 55% of the costs are related to athletics and entertainment and only 22% is for safety and academic improvements. There is also a sizeable percentage in construction-related costs, such as architect and consultant fees, permits,
And testing that consumes the remaining 23%.
The big ticket items I've categorized as athletics and entertainment are a
new gymnasium, refit of the old gym into an auditorium and the "relocation"
of the football field/track.
The plan maintains that the move of the main entrance from the current location on Highway 87 to the back of the high school building has the effect of requiring the move of the old and "deteriorating" track and football field.
The new gym is simply because the current gym is old, with no mention that it no longer usable or in an unfixable state. I have to question if this is the most cost-effective plan to meet the security and educational needs of the district?
In a district where nearly one out of four households are considered burdened by housing costs (spend more than 30% of their income on housing costs, which includes taxes) is this the right investment in our kids for the next 20 years?
Adding to this concern is that the current generation now labeled as Generation Z, faces an uphill climb as fewer than 50% of them will be
better off financially than their parents. That's declined from a figure of
90% in 1970. Does this plan help arm this generation and the next to beat those odds? I don't think so.
I'd be more inclined to vote yes on a plan that had something like an investment in a technology center, where students can learn cutting-edge
technologies, rather than going to a dance or concert in a new auditorium or attending a game on a new football field.
Unfortunately, that isn't the case, so I'll be voting no in the simplest manner by visiting the Becker County Auditor and casting my absentee ballot.
— Kevin Racer, Osage