Letters to the Editor Wakonda can meet any challenge
To the Editor:
A good road map can give you a lot of comfort in knowing where you're going and how long it will take you to get there. The last few months has required our community to look at our children's road map and conduct a critical self-analysis of the Wakonda Community School. As educators, parents, board members and community our students' education should be the first and foremost priority for our future generation.
Coming back to live in the Wakonda community has given my family and I great pleasure and yet has brought sadness. This last year, my family and I have attended public meetings, participated with many in school and community events but mostly listened to conversations in which many have shared their concerns and opinions (pros and cons) regarding our children's education.
On Feb. 12, our community is being asked to vote and decide the destiny of the Wakonda school system. There's one simple question to ask, "Are our children receiving the education they need in order to prepare for college"? I believe they are.
My children have had the opportunity to attend a larger school. However, some issues that people in the community have claimed, those same issues and more occur in the larger schools. The larger school provides an opportunity for some students; but it does not provide a better opportunity for all students. There are so many benefits in a small school; like small class sizes and individual attention. I would like to ask everyone before you vote, please take the time to understand all the facts. Make sure you have answers to all your questions.
What saddens me is what has happened to our community. Many attend school functions; many get involved in community projects, and many pay their respect to those we have lost. This small community has been torn in several directions. Yet, I believe we are a community of great energy and ability. I know this community can tackle any challenge that comes before us. The future of our community and our students depends on you.
Affirm rights to self-determination
To the editor:
Based on the information appearing in one of your stories about the proposed dissolution of the Wakonda School, the Vermillion School District would reap a huge windfall from South Dakota taxpayers by absorbing our Wakonda district 13-2. Vermillion would get nearly $3 million from funds which were intended to help small schools consolidate with each other � not to pay one big fish to swallow up a little one. Citizens should vote against this misuse of scarce school funds.
Further, the ill-conceived plan to dissolve the Wakonda School District into the Vermillion schools, if passed, would mean that we in the Wakonda district would substantially give up our voice in the education of our children. The numbers dictate that we citizens of the Wakonda district would be extremely lucky if we could elect even one member of the Vermillion School Board to represent us. We will become a taxed colony without representation or control of our children's education. That control will in the hands of others (along with our tax money) whose agendas do not necessarily represent our interests.
Furthermore, the advantages of the small school will be lost, not only to ourselves but ultimately to our nation, as other small schools continue to be dissolved and consolidated following our example. But we need diversity in our schools. Schools need to be planned and controlled locally � not by our governor, not by top-down national organizations, not by think tanks.
Let's choose a positive future for ourselves on Feb. 12, not a negative one. Let us affirm our rights to self-determination rather than destroying them. Please vote against the plan to dissolve and attach.
Vote against dissolution plan
To the editor:
I have six reasons to vote against the plan � Arron, Stacie, Josh, Cody, Tate and Hailey. These reasons are beautiful and priceless, no dollar amount can equal these grandchildren.
A vote against keeps the Wakonda school open and keeps all our priceless children here in Wakonda. I have other reasons too vote against the plan � my community, my church, my home, and my friends.
I would lose all of them if the school closed. I am so proud to be a part of the Wakonda Community. Please be as proud, love these Wakonda kids as much as I do and vote against the plan and keep Wakonda School open.
The staff is excellent and the kids' educational needs are all being met right here at Wakonda school. Put the teachers, the child, and the parents all working together and it doesn't get any better than this.
To keep the Wakonda school open, please vote against.
Wakonda board offers no guarantees
To the Editor:
On Feb. 12 we Wakonda voters go to the polls to voice our opinion that has largely been ignored by our school board members. It has everything to do with building or consolidation. This vote would not be happening if the board HAD actually discussed consolidation possibilities with other schools several years ago. These talks have only happened recently in order to appease the voters who do not approve the new addition ? hoping the dissolution will fail.
Walk down main street and look around, what do you see? How many businesses are there that bring money into town? You'll say "all of them". Wrong � most of them bring in locals and local money. You need outside money to grow.
I keep hearing that if the school closes down the town will die. It is not the school's job to keep the town alive or to keep the property values up. It is the TOWN'S JOB to encourage growth.
The fine people of Wakonda booed Vermillion's plan to keep the school open because there was no guarantee to do so. What guarantee do you have that the new addition will keep the school open? The school boards? Is it in the writing? No � but we will build anyway. Because that is what the school board wants.
I guess Mr. Van Moser said it best last fall, "Because we are going to build no matter what." Perhaps that should be etched above the doors when (I mean if) the addition is built for all to see. Perhaps those words will come back to haunt.
Base vote on reality
To the editor:
There are many decisions in life that would be made much simpler if we could have a �crystal ball.� However, we must instead make our choices by weighing the odds. Likewise, those who find the highest degree of success are the ones who make the right choices.
We again have a school issue before us in Clay County that has created the need for a crystal ball. Since this isn�t an option, let�s set aside the emotion for a short time and realistically weigh the odds.
At a recent meeting held at The University of South Dakota addressing future enrollment potential for the university, the following facts were stated. In 1972, there were 12,575 graduating seniors in South Dakota. Last year, the 2001 class graduated 9,542. Based on current census figures, if all goes well we may hold on to a projected 8,816 graduates by 2012.
To further bring this into perspective there are 125 school districts in the state. The top 20 districts graduate 50 percent of the total seniors. Also, as the total declines, the percentage of graduates increases in the top 20 percent and continually decreases in the 80 percent group, which includes Wakonda. Bottom line; the natural attrition of our rural communities is inevitable. I hate it and you hate it. However, emotion won�t change it no matter how hard we wish.
So where do we go from here? The proponents of the �revival of Wakonda via a new school addition� project have conceded to the necessity of consolidation for survival. However, the concept of �build and they will come� is a huge gamble with very unfavorable odds. Please think about it � Gayville, Viborg, Hurley and Beresford have new schools. Centerville and Vermillion have recent major updates. They aren�t coming to Wakonda, and setting our emotion aside for a moment, we all know that.
As our rural communities continue to decline due to the age of our agricultural producers along with the economic forces at hand, will there be 125 schools operating by 2012, or even in 2007? Again, we all know the answer to that.
You need to understand that the origin of the idea to join Vermillion was chosen knowing it would be the easiest case to �sell against� and defeat and would thereby immediately return the authority to the Wakonda School Board to build. What they didn�t expect was that the State Department of Education would look upon this idea with favor, and graciously grant consolidation incentive because joining Vermillion makes sense!
As you perhaps have read, Nebraska is discontinuing financial incentives for school consolidations due to budgetary constraints. Will there be money for consolidation next time we are forced to act? Odds are � maybe not.
Take Wakonda�s 188 students minus the 10 foreign exchange students and you average 13.7 children per class. If the 726 graduating student decline by 2012 isn�t more severe, and if it continues to hit rural areas the hardest, the graduating senior class will be reduced by an average of seven students in 80 percent of schools. Will we last that long? Will another school really come to Wakonda? You know the odds and the true answer to these questions.
If we do not vote to accept what Vermillion is offering, do you think we will really need more building space five years from now when we may realistically have the equivalent of two to three classes less in student enrollment? Our emotion would like to see the real world go away, so we can let our past be our future; however, it is unfair of us to demand that our children also live in the past when they need to compete in the future. None of us has a crystal ball, but the facts are crystal clear � please vote on reality.
Reasons to vote against plan
To the editor:
Here are some reasons that I think the people who care about the Wakonda School or the town of Wakonda should vote against the school reorganization plan:
? Low student:teacher ratio.
? Extra-curricular participation.
? Local control.
? Property values.
? Community pride/sense of community.
? Help keep local churches, businesses, and civic groups alive.
If any of the above are important to you please take time to vote against the plan on Feb. 12. Thank you!
Wakonda Public Schools Vote against dissolution plan
To the Editor:
On Feb. 12, Wakonda voters go to the polls to determine the fate of their school district. This time we are not voting on a building project, we are voting on the future of the education of our children and grandchildren. We are voting to save our school. Taxes are not an issue this time. Either way the vote goes, your property taxes will not change significantly. Vermillion�s taxes are 35.81 mills, and Wakonda�s are 36.08 mills, which includes the proposed addition to our school. The questions to be voted on this election are three-fold as we see them:
1. Do you want your children educated in the small school environment in Wakonda, or the larger school in Vermillion, 25 miles away?
2. Do you want to maintain local control of your educational system with the local voters and school board in Wakonda, or do you want to give all of the control to Vermillion?
3. How important of a part does the school play in your community?
Having been residents of the community all our life, alumni of WHS, and a school board member for 18 years, the answers are obvious to us:
1. The numbers speak for themselves in Wakonda. Our student�s standardized test scores are higher than many schools. College freshman grade point averages for our students are higher than Vermillion. Our smaller student/teacher ratio provides more opportunities for students to participate in extracurricular activities. An article last week in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader written by three USD education professors stated that �We believe that a higher percentage of students will be successful when they are a part of a smaller learning community.� Our two children both received excellent preparation for college in Wakonda and went on to be on the dean�s list every semester at SDSU.
2. If we attach to Vermillion, there will no longer be a Wakonda School Board. All decisions about the education of your children and your future property taxes will be made by the Vermillion board.
3. It goes without saying that the school is a major part of the quality of life in a small community. People gather to watch their children participate in activities, share ideas at parent/teacher meetings, and attend many school sponsored events. School activities bring people to town that also attend churches, shop at businesses, participate in organizations, and generally maintain the close relationships that are valued in a small community.
In South Dakota, all small schools are concerned about declining enrollment. Wakonda is no different. Projections made by the administration show that our enrollment will be stable in the foreseeable future. The current school board is well aware of its patrons� concerns, and are more than willing to discuss consolidation when the timing is right. That time is not now. We have a quality school with a dedicated, experienced staff, a professional administration, and a quality educational program. The building project that is in the works will make Wakonda an attractive consolidation participant in the future.
We would like to caution the supporters of our school to not become apathetic in this election. We need every vote to defeat this plan. Dissolution is not what we want for our school, our kids and our community. Vote against the proposed plan to dissolve our school district on Feb. 12. Thank you.
Ron and Celia Peterson
Community club urges vote against dissolution
To the voters of the Wakonda School District:
Writing on behalf of the expanded Executive Committee of the Wakonda Community Club we would like to urge all voters to vote against the proposal for dissolution on Feb. 12.
The Community Club has long been involved with the school and has made every effort to support progress and to encourage students with their education.
The town and community have a long history of pride in their school. Going back to its earliest days and throughout the history of the school there has been much recognition of the school, its students, and the alumni.
Several things in recent years help point out the progress and viability of the town. Census figures indicated an increase in the town population whereas many small communities were declining. The success of the development corporation in developing the land in the southwest part of town with its subsequent new housing all point to progress. The nursing home has just completed at least a quarter of a million dollar expansion and improvement project.
Other areas that would face certain negative change if we should lose the school would be organizations, churches, businesses and property values.
For the sake of Wakonda students of today and for those of generations to come; as well as the issues stated above we urge all voters to vote against the dissolution proposal.
The Wakonda Community Club Executive Committee
Warren G. Kuhler,
Let�s roll on Feb. 12
To the editor:
It is a well-known fact that South Dakota has the most �working moms� in the nation. Why would we, as a community, be so cruel and callous to lay on them an added burden: More traveling hither and yon and worry as to the safety of their children?
Granted, there are more subjects offered in big schools, but how many will enroll in them? I�ve been told that in the advanced classes in the Sioux Falls� high schools there are not that many students (other than those interested in computer science, engineering, and a math degree).
Taxes are inevitable and we will pay even more to other districts if this vote fails to pass. Why would you �cut off your nose to spite your face?�
In the words of the heroic airline passengers over Pennsylvania on Sept. 11 � �LET�S ROLL� on Feb. 12!
Johnson fights for South Dakotans
To the Editor:
Access to television signals is key to rural residents receiving local news, weather, sports, safety advisories, and community information. For many rural areas, the biggest obstacle to quality satellite dish signals has been the fact that organizations who are willing to put up the necessary technology cannot obtain the loans to do so.
Fortunately, a solution is in sight. This past year, South Dakota�s U.S. senators provided the push from Washington to get this critical project underway back home. Specifically, Sen. Tim Johnson was able to use his position on the influential Senate Appropriations Committee to obtain $20 million in loan guarantees for this goal.
Even after the House of Representatives dropped the ball and provided no funding for this project, Sen. Johnson was able to muster this loan guarantee through the Congress and signed by President Bush.
Sen. Johnson deserves our thanks for remembering the people back home and for effectively fighting for South Dakotans while in Washington.
Barbara J. Healy
Consider alternatives for Chestnut Street
To the editor:
Congratulations and salutations for printing the letter from Dr. Chas Yelverton about considering alternatives for Chestnut Street! What are the alternatives?
Alternatives � they are numerous and varied; with an ivory tower full of scintillating intellect in residence it seems to me as though there could be a feasible solution to this challenge without it becoming a million dollar boondoggle!
How about some gravel on it and then run a patrol over it, say � once a month, just for practice?
George F. Ufford
Reader expresses frustration with parking
To the Editor:
Within the past couple of months, I have received a handfull of parking tickets. Every one of these tickets occurred while my car was parked in front of my parents� house on North Yale Street. I understand these parking laws have their purposes, however, I think sometimes they are enforced too heavily.
One good example of this is the parking ticket I and about five others received for parking on North Yale Street the night between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which was technically a violation since you cannot park there from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. on odd numbered days.
C�mon! It was Christmas for crying out loud � no one was going to be out there plowing snow or repairing the roads.
I am not writing to deny the fact that I violated the parking laws, because I know each tickert was given to me for being parked illegally. However, I am writing to let Vermillion know that I think these parking laws on North Yale Street are too out of hand.
I know others in my parents� neighborhood can relate to my frustrations.