Letter: Rochester referendum is not simple but outcome will refect on district

Rochester Public Schools is asking taxpayers to approve a $9.61 million referendum for a 10-year total of $96 million. It's a sizable request given the reality of stagnant wages, increases in everything from groceries to taxes to health care.

Consider, for example, private-school parents who incur their children's tuition as well as public school taxes.

To support this referendum, the school board cites the fact that this district, compared with other Minnesota schools, ranks well below average in local-option revenue. School officials also contend this referendum is not intended to increase or improve programming but instead only sustain what we already have. Hopefully, teachers don't approach instruction with a similar purpose.

Though unintentional, school referendums reliably serve as a measure of confidence a community has in its schools.

Referendum rational may confuse voters. Whereas the school board continues to draw down budget reserves to maintain programs, the board has piloted, adopted and is implementing a costly one-to-one iPad program. At the cost of $374 per iPad, half the district's students are equipped. Taxpayers can easily estimate this innovation's cost at a time of budget constraints. Though iPads feature student engagement and excitement, the jury is out for statistically validating the impact iPads have on student achievement.


This referendum isn't as simple as it appears. regardless of the outcome, it portends uncertainty for District 535.

Jerry Reynolds


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