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On April 10th, 2018, the Brainerd Public School District 181 will face one of its most important and significant days yet.
This day sincerely holds the future of our school district in the palm of it’s hand.
On Tuesday, April 10th, 2018, a three-question ballot will be voted on across our school district, for a major referendum affecting all aspects of our public schools in the Brainerd area.
The outcome of this referendum has the power to change our schools and shape the education available to our community in every way.
The voting has already begun. I voted early so I could rest completely assured that my YES votes would be counted, regardless of where I was on April 10th.
I hope you’ll join us in standing up for our children and our community, and fighting for Blueprint 181 and the incredible changes that will come with this much-needed referendum.
The website Blueprint181.org is a one stop shop for everything you need to know about the referendum and the election.
It details the three ballot questions, what each one is asking for, which schools are part of each question, and what the needs and proposed changes are to each of the schools in the district.
If you need details or have questions, I encourage you to spend some time on the Blueprint181.org website. You will find all your answers there, along with a contact email in case you have other questions you want answered.
What is the ISD 181 Referendum for and why do we need it?
This referendum is seeking funding for the health, safety and educational needs in every single one of our district schools.
We have a wonderful school district. I went through our public schools from kindergarten all the way through high school graduation, and I know we are truly blessed to live in a community that values education and our schools so highly.
But our schools have issues.
Size and space concerns. There are too many kids and not enough space.
Safety concerns. In today’s often terrifying world, safety is at the forefront of all of our minds. Especially when it comes to sending our kids off to school, we want them to be as safe as humanly possible and the safety needs of today and different from when the school were built decades ago.
Changing educational needs. In order to adequately prepare our community’s children for life after high school, the educational and technological needs of the schools are different from they used to be. We want to give our kids the best foundation for their adult lives, and this is where it begins.
There are so many needs in every building in our district. The Blueprint181.org site, as well as a wonderfully put together booklet they made and a moving video they created share the needs that each school has.
We simply can’t go on without these changes.
There are too many kids with too many needs, and our buildings can’t provide for them in their current states.
Things need to change, and that’s where the referendum comes in.
What’s it going to cost me?
A referendum is paid for by taxpayer dollars.
If this referendum passes, each taxpayer in our district will see a tax increase in their property taxes, which will go to fund all of the changes and improvements that are proposed in the three different questions.
But how much will it really cost you?
I’ll be honest; whenever referendums and other things are proposed that will affect my taxes, I wonder what the bottom line is for my finances. How will it affect my wallet? What will it cost me?
All of us have budgets we are trying to stick to and things we are trying to afford like health insurance and mortgages. And pretty much everyone is tired of paying high taxes and doesn’t want to pay more. I get it. I’m right with you.
But the true bottom line cost for this referendum is small. Really small.
There’s a calculator on the Blueprint 181 website for people to calculate the figure for their own home and budget, but for a medium home in Brainerd (which is pretty much exactly where my house falls), the increase to our property taxes will be $7 a month.
SEVEN DOLLARS a month.
We spend more on that getting a pizza from Costco.
We spend more on that on Saturday morning donuts.
We spend more on that in a dozen other small ways each month, for the sake of convenience and small pleasures.
Is $7 a month worth improving every school in our district for not only my son but for every single school aged kid in my community and the kids that will follow in the generations to come?
A thousand times, YES.
Even if it meant we couldn’t get that pizza from Costco or those donuts on Saturday morning, the education available in our community is worth the sacrifice.
The future of our children and the future of our community depend on this referendum passing. (And I don’t say that lightly.)
But, I don’t have kids.
Why should I have to pay for other people’s kids? Why would I want to vote Yes for this?
I know there are a lot of taxpayers in our district who either don’t have children or who’s children are long grown and moved on.
There are also a lot of people frustrated with the high level of taxes already required of them.
It seems like this wouldn’t benefit you, so why should you have to fund it?
If you don’t have children or grandchildren who are in the Brainerd ISD 181 school district, you might not see the direct benefit with this referendum or with this tax increase required to fund it.
You might wonder if it’s worth it.
Here’s the thing though. You live in this community.
If you’re a part of the community, you are by extension, affected by the overall state of the community.
What makes a community strong? Good schools, quality health care, a devoted local government.
Even if you have no involvement with the local public schools, their strength, health and quality affect you. They affect whether people want to move to the area. They affect whether entrepreneurs are willing to move their families there, to open businesses. They affect how the community is reflected to others.
And they ultimately affect the property value of YOUR home, whether you have kids that go to the schools or not. And everyone wants their property value to be as high as possible.
The other way to look at it is this. If you knew that your neighbor had a child who was ill and they couldn’t afford medical treatment, would you donate money to them to help?
If you knew a family with a need that you could help fill, whether that be clothes to donate, meals to cook and deliver, or money to help with bills, would you help them?
If you’ve ever helped donate money to a Go Fund Me campaign or even just a charity organization that sent you a moving letter in the mail, you are helping people because they need it. And usually, there is no direct benefit to you, besides knowing you did a good deed and helped out someone who needed it.
Most people wouldn’t think twice about helping. It’s what we would want people to do if we were in need.
How does this relate to this referendum?
I understand I’m comparing public school with an ill child and I’m taking a liberty doing that. I don’t mean to minimize a sick child in any way.
My point is our public schools have a great need. Our children have a great need. Our current schools are worn, too small, and in need of help.
And the future of the schools, as well as the future of the children in our district are in all of our hands this spring, including the hands of those who don’t have children.
We need your help, even if you don’t have kids that go to public school.
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On April 10th, (or earlier if you are voting early at the Courthouse or by absentee ballot), you will hold the future of the schools and of our local school children in your hands as you hold your three-question ballot.
Each question proposes a different facet of the referendum. The first part affects early childhood and elementary education. The second affects secondary schools and alternative education. The third affects a performing arts center with great community benefit.
Each question stands alone as an individual vote.
Each question asks you to dig deep and advocate for the schools and the children who attend them, as you vote YES to each one.
As you consider what you will vote to each of the three questions, I ask you to keep this in mind.
If you have children in the school system, it’s a no-brainer. Your children NEED this referendum. Your children’s future quite literally depends on this passing. It depends on you voting Yes, Yes, Yes.
And if you don’t have children in the school system, what is a quality education for the children in your community worth to you; your neighbors, your fellow church members? What are you willing to spend in order to give them this incredible opportunity?
What are you willing to pay in order to keep your community strong and keep your property taxes high?
Are you willing to let your taxes go up the amount of a Costco pizza?
How about a box of donuts or a couple cups of coffee?
I hope this referendum passes by a landslide.
I hope the citizens and taxpayers who live in the Brainerd Public School District 181 will rise up, see the deep need our schools have, and the incredible benefit this referendum will bless our students and our community with, and how truly small the financial impact will be to each of them.
I hope you’ll vote YES times three to the three questions on the ballot on April 10th, 2018.
My toddler son and the future of his education, not to mention the thousands of other children this will impact over the years, are grateful for you.