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Letter: Voters on referendum may not have been informed

By Kris Besel, Worthington High School debate teacher, and members of the debate class: Ari Lopez, Alisha Cooper, Ben Doeden, Vince Riley, Laura Wetering, Chris Mayorga, Michelle Ramirez, Carlos Roderiguez, Leslie Resendiz, Kimberly Kraft, Cameron Jenson, Bryan Doeden

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We were disappointed in the voting population of Worthington last week. In our country, voting is a right, but the expectation linked to that right is to be an informed and intelligent voter. We don’t feel this is what happened in the case of the recent school elections.

With the operating levy, we aren’t sure why this didn’t pass. The ballot stated voting for the operating levy would mean an increase in taxes. Yes, this would mean an increase from the elimination of said levy and the reinstatement of the new one, but it would actually be a decrease in what you were currently paying for the operating levy that was in place. This is because the state has increased its financial commitment to districts. Most districts in the state of Minnesota have operating levies. They are needed for operating expenses. To vote for this should have been a “no brainer.” Without it, our district will suffer in normal operating expenses.

With the building referendum — yes, this would cost money. But have you been to a school in the district lately to see how crowded all of our buildings are due to increased enrollment? The population is increasing, and we are out of space. Interest rates are fairly low now, and building at this time would be more cost efficient than a year or two from now. We think we can all afford $8 to $18 a month (residential estimates) in tax increase to support our schools, don’t you? Yes, we understand farmers would pay much more, but the state sets the tax base due to the increasing cost of farmland sales. For those who say there was plenty of room in the schools in the ’70s, we say, yes that’s the case. But special education, English Language learners and computer labs were not part of schools in the ’70s. In the high school alone, that equals about 10 rooms. All of these are required by law and/or are a part of the times that we live in.

If you voted no because you are mad at the district, we say, “shame on you.” Who is really suffering from such an approach? The students. If you want your voice heard, then you should have expressed them at the public meetings. Yes, West is still there, and the building is in even worse shape now. At the last referendum (15 years ago), the goal was to eliminate it. Due to the other ALC building being in even worse shape, and lack of space, it stayed. This will be remedied with the new building referendum.

As referendums go, this one is very reasonable. Mankato East has a referendum in the works due to the very same space issue Worthington is experiencing, although their referendum (for a very similar structure) will be $90 million plus.

Be an informed voter. Vote yes for the future of Worthington!