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Letter: Three reasons to vote 'yes' on referendum

By Jenny Andersen, Worthington

As Feb. 13 quickly approaches, I invite you to think about just three things in regards to the bond referendum.  

First, consider interest rates. They are still at historic lows when we look at the last 30 years.  Most experts expect them to continue to rise. The rates have already risen 1 percent from the last time we voted in 2016. A 1 percent increase in interest rates equates to $11 million over the life of the bond. Also, construction costs increase annually and will add another $2-4 million onto the project each year we wait. Many districts end up spending years battling over referendums only to get a lessor project with a higher price tag in the end than what was initially proposed.  Let’s not be one of those communities.

Second, consider expertise and motive. The Worthington Citizens for “Progress” emerged from the woodwork a year and a half ago as sudden experts in education, school funding, public policy, demography, architecture, construction, real estate, finance, growth, taxes, bonds, pensions, etc., etc. We have received fliers, Facebook posts and propaganda designed to mislead and confuse people. We have endured unending attacks of local business and supporters. Are these the people we should trust? Who are the experts? We have incredible teachers and administrators in our buildings who are the experts and understand education. Our board has done their homework and has explored every possible alternative as we have elected them to do. Our experts in education and a reputable architectural firm, with community input, have proposed the most cost-effective, responsible solution to our problem. The real experts in this case have no hidden agenda or motive to lie to us or mislead us. They all will bear the same burden as we do. It’s really as simple as that.  

Finally, consider “paying it forward.” Have your own kids graduated from high school and gone on to bigger and better things? We’ve heard many people in the community make the comment, “My kids have already graduated, so this doesn’t impact me.” As the Feb. 13 referendum approaches, I invite you to take a trip down memory lane, maybe going back to the days when your kids were the ages my daughters currently are — 8 and 4. Think back to a time when your kids still fit easily on your lap or in your arms snuggled up and those moments when you wished you could stop time, even if just for a little while. Try to remember a time when, other than their health, absolutely nothing was more important to you than making sure those little ones received the best education they possibly could get so they could reach their full potential.   

Would you have wanted your own children to sit in a crowded classroom and not receive the attention they needed because a teacher is struggling to manage a classroom with too many students? Would you have wanted to hear at night repeatedly that your child doesn’t have time to eat all of her lunch because of the 1,250 kids who have to get rushed through the cafeteria? Or that your child has to have lunch at 10:45 after just having breakfast and is hungry at the end of school? Or that precious minutes each day that should be spent on education are instead spent on waiting in lines in hallways or to use the restroom? All of these examples are realities today in our schools. I don’t think any parent wants to have their child’s education and future put in jeopardy, yet that is exactly what is happening now. And it’s only going to get worse as our enrollment continues to grow at a rate of four classrooms per year.

If you are thinking of voting “no” because your own kids have already graduated, please think back to prior referendums that may have been passed before or during the time your kids were in school. People who didn’t have kids in the system at that time were faced with the same decision you have today.  Please ask yourself — should it be left up to chance that our kids are born at the right time in order to get a quality education?

Please vote yes this week at the Nobles County Government Building or at Lakeside Church on Feb. 13.  It only takes a few minutes to make a difference in the lives of thousands of kids and the future of our community.