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Letter: District pledges to give the facts on referendum

By the Worthington District 518 School Board

Victoria Blanchette, Lori Dudley, Joel Lorenz, Linden Olson, Scott Rosenberg, Steve Schnieder, Brad Shaffer

Many District 518 residents are aware of the space issues we face in Worthington Public Schools. Parents who stop by during the day to pick up students or attend a student program can see that every nook and cranny is filled, especially at Prairie Elementary.

Worthington Schools will hold a one-question referendum on Feb. 13, 2018. We have a good

problem; schools at every level are full and enrollment increases continue to beat projections. However, student learning can suffer from overcrowding.

We sought community input to develop the new referendum proposal. Community members helped evaluate options that would address the problem. We listened. The new proposal is different than the 2016 referendum. It is a cost-effective solution and does not include a

stadium or athletic fields. Our proposed solution would alleviate overcrowding at every grade level in each school by building a new high school and reconfiguring the grades within existing buildings.

The theme for this year’s referendum says it all: Room to Learn, Room to Grow. We are using and over-using spaces that weren’t designed for students or for the number of students in them. The good news is that students are still learning — our staff does an amazing job at finding solutions to make do. But we can do better if we have more space. We’ve been adding four classrooms of students each year for a decade, and that is anticipated to continue. This referendum proposal would provide enough space to fit the enrollment increases that are coming.

As an organization, we model the behavior we seek by being honest and transparent, and living up to the public’s need for trust. We stand ready to answer your questions through every step of this process prior to Election Day.

In return, we need your commitment to study the facts that the district provides regarding the referendum. We learned through our survey that we didn’t provide enough information to you in the last election. We’ll do better this year. We also know that some advocacy groups shared information that was confusing or misleading. The school district is obligated by law to send you the facts of the referendum and will do so.

Some districts have been bombarded with last-minute information from “Vote No” groups. In many cases, these groups hire someone who has no investment in our communities and no investment in our students’ academic success to sabotage a referendum and to divide a community.

You have our pledge that we will provide you with ongoing factual information through various mailings, e-mail newsletters and on the district website (www.isd518.net). School district officials are also personally willing to come to your home/neighborhood to speak with you and your neighbors. Then, you must decide how to vote based on the facts.

These schools are your schools. Please stay informed. The future of our schools and the children of the communities we serve depends on you and your neighbors. If you have questions about this letter or the referendum, feel free to contact any board member at 372-2172 or info@isd518.net.

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