Letter: Vote yes for Kingsland in Nov. 5 special election

I am writing to you as a parent, citizen and taxpayer to bring awareness to the proposed operating referendum levy. I have lived here in the district most of my life, graduating from Kingsland in 1997. My husband and I are proud parents of two boys who attend the Kingsland High School.  I work in the community at Olmsted Medical Center and regularly attend many school and community events throughout the year. I am proud of where I live and work. I am proud of where my children attend school and, as most parents and members of our community do, I want to see it succeed.

On Nov. 5 community members will be asked to approve a proposed operating referendum levy. Although I am writing to you today as a concerned parent, as a new Kingsland School Board member I can share with you the knowledge I have gained over the past year. Time and time again communities across the state of Minnesota are faced with the same problem and decision that we face here in the Kingsland School District. State educational funding is lacking and has not kept pace with inflation or increasing costs which greatly exceed the money received.  So, we as community members are asked to approve a tax increase to support our local schools to supplement the money that is received from the state. Operating levy money is used solely for operating and basic maintenance. An operating levy does NOT fund new buildings. Operating levy money is essentially used to pay the bills, employee salaries, pay for educational materials and curriculum, etc. Operating levies are good for 10 years. The current 10-year levy expires in 2020. The school district asked for voter approval of a new operating levy last year in preparation for the expiration of the current levy. It was voted down, thus they are asking again. 

If the proposed levy does not pass, the school will suffer, going into operating debt. The state will step in and dictate how what little money the district has will be spent. Cuts will be made, meaning much less offerings to our students. Reductions in elective class offerings such as foreign language, ag, and tech classes will be made. Reductions in extracurricular and athletic activities, too. Student support services could suffer. Class sizes would increase and jobs may be lost. It is my opinion this will not only affect the school but our communities as well. Residents may move away seeking employment or to take their children where more is offered. Not only will there be the possibility of the student population going down, but the population of the communities in our district may also. What will happen to our communities if those populations drastically decline?

We have a fantastic school with wonderful educators and staff who have helped achieve a nearly 97 percent graduation rate. Our students exceed the state average in reading and are nearly there in mathematics. The student to educator/support staff ratio is 13:1. Kingsland is competitive in sports, band, choir and FFA just to name a few. Kingsland is excelling and thriving, and we can keep it that way.  The students of Kingsland who are the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of our communities, are after all, our future.  Please join me as a parent and community member and show support for the future members of our community and the school that may have once educated and supported you. On Nov. 5 vote yes for Kingsland.

Natasha Howard

Kingsland alumni and concerned parent.

Need more information? The Kingsland School Board and administration are always eager and willing to answer any questions you may have from a deeper explanation of what an operating levy is to helping you find your individual property tax impact. A website solely dedicated to the proposed operating levy can be accessed via the Kingsland public schools web site or at www.kingsland2019.com. Join us at the school on Monday Oct. 21, at 6 p.m. for an informational meeting on the operating levy. Contact information for administration and board members can be obtained on the school website, www.kingsland.k12.mn.us, or by simply calling the school at 507-346-7276.