Letter to the Editor: Minnesota Senate Republican plan would defund rural schools

Submitted by a group of concerned citizens
Crookston Times

    The MN Senate GOP’s Education Bill, Senate File 960, proposes to turn taxpayer funds into an ATM machine. The proposed “voucher program” would take hundreds of millions of dollars away from public schools. This Senate “voucher program”, would siphon off public school dollars for private use. Unfortunately, Senator Mark Johnson of East Grand Forks, supports the defunding of our local schools.

    The argument to transfer our taxpayer funds to individual savings accounts doesn’t make the grade. For example, if a bridge over a river needs repairs, we don’t simply let it fall into disrepair, remove it, and send out vouchers to ferry across. We fix the bridge. We have underfunded our schools for too long and it’s starting to show. If we had kept up with inflation, our schools would be receiving an additional $500 per pupil unit in 2021.   

    We know that our rural schools are the hearts of our communities. Instead of weakening public schools, we should be strengthening them. Instead of defunding our rural schools, we should be building them up.  Catastrophic cutting of budgets and slashing of programs will lead to the closing of rural schools. Ask any community member where schools have closed about the effect that has had on their community’s viability. Our communities and schools are interconnected and the Senate proposal weakens them both! This last minute, last ditch effort to defund public schools behind closed doors is irresponsible and short-sighted. Contact Senator Paul Gazelka, Senate Majority Leader, at 651-296-4875, and Senator Mark Johnson, at 651-296-5782 today and demand that our taxpayer dollars support our local schools, not weaken them.

Kip Fontaine - Mentor

Wendell Johnson – Crookston

Faith Rud – Warren

Krista Fisher – Fertile

Marsha Odom – Crookston

Brandon Kasperick - Warren

Penny Johnson – Crookston

Garth Kaste – Fertile

Sheila Fontaine – Mentor

Cynthia Ansbacher – Crookston