By Harold Remme
ISD 88 Superintendent
The Nov. 6 general election is less than 20 days away. When registered voters go to the polls on Nov. 6, they will have many important decisions to make on the ballot. A registered voter will be asked to vote on who the United States President will be, who area U.S. senators and representatives will be, who Minnesota senators and representatives will be, constitutional amendments on voter identification and marriage recognition in addition to local county offices, various judges for supreme court, associate justice, court of appeals and district court.
Two additional ballot questions have a local impact. Those questions relate to the election of school board members and an operating levy referendum question.
School board elections in the New Ulm school district take place on even numbered years. This year, four school board vacancies are up for election. Eight community residents have filed for the four vacant positions. There is a potential for over half of the current school board membership to be replaced with new members. ISD 88 voters are encouraged to become familiar with school board candidates and their views and positions on school issues facing the district in future years. The four people elected will each serve four year terms on the school board for ISD 88. The candidates elected on Nov. 6 will take office as of Jan. 1, 2013.
The election ballot question relating to the operating levy revenue is another voter question that requires and deserves careful consideration by the voter on Nov. 6. State, federal and local funding has not kept pace with inflation in the past decade. ISD 88 has made significant budget reduction in past years. These reductions have resulted in the loss of secondary course offerings and increasing class sizes at all grade levels. Additional revenue is being requested to prevent further program and staffing reductions in years ahead.
Some say that school districts should automatically increase local school taxes to prevent reductions which negatively impact classroom education. School boards cannot increase educational funding resources without seeking voter approval. Education funding is the only governmental area which local voters decide the level of funding for their school district. The school district is required by the State of Minnesota to inform taxpayers of the procedures and impact of an operating referendum question on the general election ballot. This required notification has been mailed to local taxpayers. In addition, the school district has provided information about the operating referendum on its website and will be including an insert in the New Ulm Journal in the future. Residents are also invited to attend an informational meeting about the operating referendum at the District Administrative Center on Monday, Oct. 29, beginning at 7 p.m. in the boardroom at the DAC.