By Gary Gross
Last week, the St. Cloud Times wrote an ‘Our View Editorial‘ lamenting the fact that there didn’t seem to be much of an effort highlighting the need for these construction projects. They noted that “there are no yard signs, no visible campaigning, and really not much buzz about the plan”, though they highlighted the fact that “the group has experienced leaders.”
The school board is indeed an experienced group of leaders. They’ve been education advocates seemingly forever. In past years, when levy referenda have come up for a vote, people can’t stand the sight of these “experienced” group of leaders because they’re everywhere. Literature extolling the virtues of voting to raise taxes on yourself are everywhere. Most people in the district get 7-9 pieces of literature in the last month alone. Doors get knocked on. Calls get made. It’s literally an all-hands-on-deck operation. In the years when voter turnout is important, Education Minnesota pitches in on the Get Out The Vote, aka GOTV, operation.
That doesn’t appear to be the case this year. The vote is scheduled for Nov. 3, 2015. The bonding referendum is literally the only thing that’s getting voted on. Even then, the school board has limited voters’, aka taxpayers’, options. This year, the school board is hoping for low voter turnout because they know their people will show up. If few of the taxpayers show up, the school board wins and the taxpayers get hit with another property tax increase.
Here’s how they’re doing that:
The referendum will pose one question on the ballot that would fund:
· acquisition of land and construction of a new Technical High School on 33rd Street South in St. Cloud; (113,800,000)
· renovation of Apollo High School and site upgrades; (46,500,000)
· safe entrances and enhanced security at all schools in the district; (2,500,000)
· technology infrastructure and devices for anytime/anywhere access to learning (4,200,000.)
That’s a rigged vote. Parents with students at Apollo HS might want to vote only for the proposed renovation at Apollo without voting for building new building to house Tech students. Taxpayers that are worried that enrollment at Tech will continue declining will want to know how big of a school the school board is planning on building. (The truth is that student flight from Tech is the worst-kept secret in St. Cloud.) There was even talk about a year ago of building one new school, combining Tech and Apollo, then selling the old Tech and Apollo schools.
The “experienced leaders” didn’t want to hear that, though. That talk from the taxpayers was quickly displaced by talk from the school board of the need to build a new Tech HS and to renovate Apollo.
Thought that this might be of interest…….
RONALD P. NIEMALA, LUTCF