Commentary: Response to spending concernThis letter is in response to Joe Tegels’ letter to the editor in the September 1 Osakis Review stating school district spending is out of control.
By Tom Grundman,
Osakis School Board chair
This letter is in response to Joe Tegels’ letter to the editor in the September 1 Osakis Review stating school district spending is out of control.
In Osakis we have a long tradition of conservative spending, 90 percent of the school districts in the state have taxpayer funded operating levies, and we have none.
Today, in the metro area, the state is paying $11,000 to educate one child per year, in Osakis we are spending $6,500.
Four new high schools opened up in the state this year; their average cost to build was $80 million. Next year Osakis Public School will open – after all the renovations and add-ons – a K-12 building that is every bit as modern, and yes, we taxpayers have a $7.9 million loan to pay off over 18 years at 3.8 percent interest.
Looking back to 1982 we had 646 kids in the building; we had 82 seniors, and averaged 40 students per grade in the 4th-8th grades; a school bus cost $20,000.
Today we have 778 kids, along with more than 60 early childhood and preschool classes; a school bus now costs more than $70,000; health insurance rates have risen from $55 per month to more than $400.
The annual cost to maintain and run the school are up five fold in 30 years.
To address the concern of the tearing down a section only 20 years old, that would be the roof removal over the administration offices – a flaw in the design created a constant leak, especially during the ice-heaving season. The liability insurance company of the original builder compensated the district; and we chose to add another level of classrooms above that office area.
The real issue facing the district is creating opportunities for kids who will be competing in a job market that is totally different than the 1980s. We know that to reach kids early, teaching reading in pre-K, and having modern high school science labs will help keep our kids competitive for years to come. If you or I had a life threatening accident, we would not want to be wheeled into a hospital with all 1982 technology and resources.
I agree with Tegels’ main concern of the recession and tightening our belts. As school and city officials, we all need to do our part watching the budgets in these challenging times.
In Osakis we have a high number of people in Tegels’ age bracket who have paid taxes for many years. Without these people laying the groundwork, we would not have the Osakis of today.
Osakis is a community to be proud of. It has a strong volunteer fire department, numerous successful churches, the perfect atmosphere to raise a family or retire.
For generations, the backbone of this community has been a strong school system. With your past and future support we will continue this for years to come. Thank you for your concerns and we offer an open invitation to the whole community to contact the school at (320) 859-2191. We would be happy to show you the building and answer any of your concerns.