Column: Thank you voters for supporting education

 Lunn

Lunn

Thank you for supporting our students, our schools and our communities!

On Nov. 5, more than 14,000 residents of our community showed up to the polls to cast their ballots in our school district levy election. The result: More than 63 percent of voters who cast a ballot in the Stillwater Area Public School District approved a proposal to renew and increase our expiring operating levy — enabling us to continue to invest in excellence. On behalf of our 8,500 students I extend a heartfelt thank you.

This is the first time in more than a decade that our community has increased its local funding beyond the rate of inflation. It is also the first time a levy question has received more than 60 percent support. I believe this is in large part a result of the hundreds of community voices that helped to shape our Bridge to Excellence plan and establish a new vision for our schools. It is also a testament to the work of our school board to prepare a thoughtful, conservative and detailed levy investment plan and their efforts to share this plan with the public.

By supporting this levy the community has placed a tremendous amount of trust in district staff and has clearly shown its commitment to the students in our schools. Your support will allow us to ensure quality learning for our students, both now and into the future. We will be able to continue to offer many of the opportunities our students have come to expect, while at the same time creating new opportunities for 21st century learning. We’ll be able to provide our students with the experiences they need to prepare them for real-world work environments and ensure that all students have safe and secure learning environments.

I know for some a tax increase will mean personal sacrifice during difficult financial times. In return, we are committed to upholding the promises we’ve made. I personally feel a weight and sense of responsibility to be accountable to the community to invest these resources wisely and as outlined. We’ll be implementing new processes to track levy dollars to ensure they are being spent as pledged, and we will provide regular reports to our community regarding the return on their investment. We will also continue working hard on finding efficiencies, diverting dollars into the classroom, and seeking outside resources to minimize future dependency on levies.

District leaders and staff will now turn their attention to fully implementing the Bridge to Excellence plan and working to enhance school security. In the coming weeks, committees will be formed to develop a new world language program at the elementary schools, as well as to develop curriculum to expand the pre-K through grade 12 STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program to STEAM with the introduction of art design. As part of the security enhancements, work will begin yet this year to install new security technology and build new entrances and secure entryways in our school buildings. We are finalizing a work schedule for these projects and will be sharing them with the public soon.

We have a lot of work ahead of us, and we look forward to continuing to partner with you to meet the needs of our students and community. Once again, thank you for supporting our schools and for investing in our students and our communities. Great things are ahead for our students and for all residents of the Stillwater Area Public Schools!

Corey Lunn is superintendent of Stillwater Area Schools. He can be contacted at lunnc@stillwater.k12.mn.us.org or 651-351-8301.

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