By: Matt Mayer
It’s time to face the facts, the world we live in today is extremely fast paced and if you can’t keep up with change you aren’t competition. We have all heard the line “Odds are you are going to school for a degree but the job you will have one day doesn’t exist today.” It’s time the St. Cloud community realizes that it has to continue pushing for the building of a new, up to date high school.
Building a new high school has many economic benefits that people over look. Some of these benefits include; rising property values, attracts new families to the area and helps the local economy.
For background information the St. Cloud community failed to pass the referendum to build the new high school on November 3, 2015. Even with this loss the community will still have to figure out what to do. In a St. Cloud Times article quoted “The $167 million price tag failed to resonate with most voters. That leaves district leaders with a choice: reform their appeal to residents or brace for deferred maintenance costs at Technical and Apollo high schools that could run more than $100 million in the next 10 years.” (Allenspach, 1)
“One important reason is deteriorating public schools bring down a community. I don’t want to see this happen. Another important reason is this investment makes good financial sense. I am a CPA, professor of accounting, and work with numbers for a profession.” (Portz 1) This is true because over the next 10 years the tax payers will be paying 140 million to keep up with the schools maintenance and community members cannot vote against this. On the other hand the school referendum of building a new high school will cost 160 million. If the referendum fails you will be paying more in taxes over 10 years than if the referendum passes.
When looking at similar communities around St. Cloud, St. Cloud actually pays almost $200 less a year based on $150,000 homes. With this referendum you would see an increase in taxes but that would bring St. Cloud up to par with taxes in neighboring communities.
This referendum would do more than just build a new school. It includes renovating the current Apollo high school, district wide security updates and improve the technology students have throughout the district.
Tech high school is over 100 years old and there many issues from the building itself to accessibility to students with physical disabilities limiting what classes they take based on where they are taught in the school. “Kaya is in a wheelchair and attends three classes at tech, there are physical limitations from a school that is 100 years old and it has been band aided.” (YouTube, St. Cloud State)
Not only does the current high school fail at providing students with a handicap accessible learning environment but the school does not have fields for outdoor sporting activities. We all know how important exercise and getting involved is and the current situation makes it hard when the students have to be bussed to the fields. With the building of the new school it would make it so that the fields would be right on the school campus.
The time to rebuild is right now. Interest rates are at an all-time low and we can borrow the money needed to build. As time goes on construction and building prices will continue to rise.
The infrastructure in both Tech and Apollo are both rotting away and you can only put a bandage on the problems for so long. You see this happening in many places today other than schools such as roads, sewers, bridges etc. Keeping St. Clouds school systems up to date is important for the schooling infrastructure as well and the future of St. Cloud itself.
Going back to how fast the world around us continues to evolve it is critical that schools stay up to date with technology and implementing it in the class room. The current situation among the St. Cloud high schools is that the curriculum is out of date and needs to use technology to make learning more exciting and engaging.
With all of the reasons being pointed out in this article it is a no brainer that it is time to stop bandaging up the old schools because the problem will never be fully dealt with. But with recent news that the referendum did not pass shows that almost half of the St. Cloud community do not like the idea of a new school and raised taxes.
Many individuals who are opposing building a new school do not want an increase in taxes because they honestly cannot afford the tax increase. One example of this is Louis LeBlanc. Noted in a St. Cloud Times article “Louis LeBlanc is a 61-year-old retiree who is concerned about the potential impact of the St. Cloud school referendum.” He is concerned because his mother lives off of social security and if these tax increases happen she cannot afford to live in her home any longer. “I do my mother’s books, so I know this — if she lives 10 years, she’ll be in a pickle,” LeBlanc said. “If she lives five, she might be able to sneak by but there won’t be many breadcrumbs for the kids. And if she should have to go in a nursing home, all bets are off. This referendum could be one more nail in the coffin.” (Allenspach, 1)
Another reason is community members do not support the referendum is because of socio-economics and environment. The affluent members of the St. Cloud community would benefit most with the new school because it will be closest to their neighborhoods.
Sadly the children who are effected negatively are the poor students who will be bussed in because the parents cannot afford a car. This is bad for the lower class of the community because the parents will drive more and kids lose out on lots of time and learning opportunities.
Overall we need to revise and pass the construction of a new school because you can only bandage a problem for so long before you run out of options. St. Cloud’s education system is suffering and there needs to be something done. No matter what taxes will be increased and with the new school it would be actually cheaper than to continue to put off the inevitable in a 20 year tax plan.