Local view: Price will be high if voters reject operating levy for Esko schoolsI have been employed as an elementary school teacher in the Esko schools for 33 years. My wife, a retired Esko teacher, and I have called Esko home for more than 30 years. We proudly have watched three sons graduate from Lincoln High School in Esko.
By: Brent Smith, Duluth News Tribune
I have been employed as an elementary school teacher in the Esko schools for 33 years. My wife, a retired Esko teacher, and I have called Esko home for more than 30 years. We proudly have watched three sons graduate from Lincoln High School in Esko.
Esko residents will have two very important referendum questions facing them when they go to the polls on Nov. 6.
The first question deals with an operating levy that would add $341 per student to our school system. Ninety percent of school districts in Minnesota have an operating levy in place. Esko does not. The statewide average for operating levies is $931 per student. Esko ranks 334th out of 335 school districts in the state in money generated per student. If this referendum passes, we move up to only 328th on the list. Passing the referendum will mean continued reasonable class sizes and maintenance of the current levels of programs and electives. Most importantly, some of the money would be used to restore industrial-technology classes that have been missing from our high school for many years but that exist in nearly every other high school in Northeastern Minnesota. By getting industrial technology back into our school, students interested in pursuing a career in the trades would have a head start. The levy’s cost to the owner of a home valued at $150,000 is just under $9 a month.
The second ballot question is for a $2.7 million renovation to the outdoor sports complex. The loss of lights and the condemning of the bleachers at Les Knuti field have been well-documented. The flood of last summer also took its toll. A football locker room and warming house was ruined by mold, and the varsity baseball field was heavily damaged. The proposed plan includes a new grass football and soccer field with lights and with bleachers that would be accessible to spectators with handicaps. It would be surrounded by a new all-weather track. A concession stand and locker rooms would serve the fans and athletes. The warming house for hockey and skating would be replaced. The renovation would include repairing the varsity baseball field and adding a varsity softball field. Six youth soccer fields would be added on the existing green space. The cost of all this to that same homeowner of a $150,000 property is just under $3 per month.
When you cast your ballot, please base your decision on accurate information. Contact our superintendent or a School Board member. Also, please review the information sent to your home and included in the Esko Corner.
If these two measures pass, there will be a modest cost to all of us who are proud to call Esko home. But if the measures fail, the cost will be much larger.
Brent Smith of Esko is a longtime elementary school teacher there.