Letters

Letters Be a Friend

To the editor:

As everyone is aware, the Friends of the W.H. Over Museum are engaged in an ongoing struggle to keep that wonderful facility as part of Vermillion. Since 1998, when we lost our state funding, the Friends have faced the staggering responsibility of maintaining a priceless collection, keeping our building in good repair, as well as doing what museums are expected to do: present good exhibits, programs, and host various festivals and commemorative festivals for holidays. We do this entirely with volunteer effort!

So far, we have managed to hold our own and have even managed to make improvements and to maintain the building and grounds in good repair. At long last, we have managed to capture the attention of the South Dakota Legislature thanks to the efforts of state Sen. Ben Nesselhuf, as he and Rep. Donna Schafer have presented a bill to appropriate monies for the W.H. Over Museum.

In addition to that encouraging piece of news, Mr. William Matusek has promised to donate $5,000 and has issued a challenge to our membership and other friends to match that amount. This is a plea for everyone to support our museum by writing to our legislators, from this district as well as others, to support SB 213 and to answer the challenge from Mr. Matusek of Winner by showing him that you support the W.H. Over Museum.

If you are not a member of the Friends of the W.H. Over Museum and if you have enjoyed visiting the museum, attending one of our functions or classes, visited the gift shop, been part of a tour group, or have participated in a function sponsored by an organization of which you are a member, please think about joining the Friends; there are several member categories and benefits from which to choose.

Watch for news of our fund-raising function on March 19, St. Joseph's name day, at the Winery when we will celebrate "White Wine and Red Kolaches" with a fine meal, music by the McNeills, and an auction for everyone's enjoyment. I hope I see many of you there.

In the meantime � Come on over to the Over and see what our great museum has to offer. Admission is free, but donations are more than welcome!

With warmest regards,

Maxine Johnson,

president,

Friends of the

W.H. Over Museum

Blessed are ?

To the editor:

Blessed are those who are not too selfish to vote for an opt-out, they shall be proud of students who are able to compete for the very best grants, and college scholarships to further develop their minds in all fields.

Blessed are those who are not too blind to vote for an opt-out, for they shall see students who are able to continue the latest research and technology to save lives, explore, promote the environment, and pursue peace throughout the world.

Blessed are those who are willing to vote for an opt-out, for their off-spring have a future with the very best paying jobs. Success breeds success. No one wants to move into "a loser community". Be the very best we can be, success attracts industry, commerce, and growth.

Blessed are those citizens in the community who vote for an opt-out, for their children will not starve for learning nor thirst for opportunity, or be unable to compete with global minds. Elders in this town were supported during your growing years. This generation needs our help to learn so they can care (for the elders)? who are rapidly aging and retiring.

Blessed are those who spread peace by voting for an opt-out, because lack of knowledge leads to abuse, anger, apathy, drug use, fear, gangs, murder, terrorism, threats and increased crimes toward society.

Blessed are those who are peacemakers voting for an opt-out, for they shall not have to go out-of-state to seek the latest medical technology to treat their medical needs because highly trained professionals will be available in this state. Think about your latest medical procedure. Do you really want to risk not funding the education of the people who will be your care-takers in a few years down the road?

Blessed are those good citizens voting for an opt-out, for the ranks of welfare will not swell with the addition of unemployed education staff and the resultant domino effect to those in town businesses.

Blessed are those who choose to vote for an opt-out, for the cost of the state penal system shall not skyrocket out of control with hopeless students left to anger, crime, drugs and violence.

Blessed are those who vote for an opt-out, for they shall insure growth in this state because families will have the very best education for their children. We only want the best for our families. Families who do not see a good education system in place will not continue to live here and move out en masse.

Blessed are those who choose to vote for an opt-out, as good citizens, they will encourage legislators to find solutions to pay for the education necessary for students in this century.

Blessed is a society which plans ahead, so its sons and daughters are not ever left behind. Period.

Janis M. Yarbrough,

Vermillion

For the kids

To the editor:

I consider myself fortunate to be born and raised in Vermillion and I am further blessed to be a fourth-grade teacher at Jolley Elementary School, where I have worked for the last five years.

As a teacher with an inside view of the school district, I know first-hand how budget cuts have affected our schools and our students over the last few years. Fewer teachers in the elementary grades mean larger class sizes with less individual attention paid to each child. Losing programs such as fifth-grade band and elementary art robs our students of the rich, well-rounded education they deserve.

Children also miss out when we don't offer them the academic challenge of a gifted program; ours was one of the first programs to fall to the budget axe. I fear that more cuts will result in a bare-bones education for kids in Vermillion. As a teacher and a parent of three school-age children, I don't look forward to such a future.

The state funding system for K-12 education has put Vermillion in the position to either cut the budget drastically or raise more money through an opt-out. I believe we have already cut enough from our schools. I urge everyone to vote in favor of the opt-out, not for the sake of my job, or myself, but for the kids in Vermillion who rely on us to provide them with the best education possible.

Sincerely,

Patty Schwasinger

Vermillion

The process

To the editor:

We've had a few questions regarding the upcoming opt-out election as well as how the budget reduction works in relation to the opt-out. Consequently, we felt it would be important to provide an explanation as to how the budget cutting process works together with the need to opt-out of the general fund tax limit.

Our school board has taken special care in determining a minimal funding level in the general fund to maintain current programs over the next five years. The board has projected the funding needs of the school based on an annual 3 percent increase in costs, 2 percent increase in revenue, and a conservative five-student annual decline in enrollment.

The projection identifies a minimal fund balance to keep the district out of debt which would place an increased financial burden on the school district in the form of interest costs. The projected $800,000 opt-out limit is designed to only maintain current programs and class sizes with no expansions. The opt-out is limited to only five years. Based on the annual financial needs of the district the school board may elect to use less each year than the maximum $800,000 request.

In the event the opt-out election is successful, the school district will receive only half the annual opt-out request ($400,000) in the upcoming 2005-06 school year. Full funding of the opt-out request will begin the following school year. The school board has identified $100,000 in potential cuts even if the opt-out election is successful. These cuts are primarily non-personnel with the exception of some co-curricular cuts.

If the opt-out election is not successful, the school board will be required to significantly cut the general fund budget for the 2005-06 school year. A recent budget cutting process involved five committees in identifying $350,000 in cuts for next year if the opt-out fails.

In addition, there will be about $68,000 in non-personnel and co-curricular cuts. These cuts will total approximately $418,000 for next year if the opt-out is not successful. Additional budget cuts are certain to be made each of the following years if the opt-out does not pass.

We encourage you to ask questions about the opt-out election or proposed budget cuts. Any school board member, the superintendent, or business manager will be pleased to answer your questions or listen to your thoughts about these financial matters facing the Vermillion School District.

Chris Girard

Nick Merrigan

Finance Committee

Vermillion School Board

Vote 'yes'

To the editor:

On March 15, Vermillion residents will have a choice to make regarding the public school's proposed opt-out. We are writing to encourage area residents, all stakeholders in some way, to get involved by becoming informed about the facts and issues that our school system is facing.

We want to share, from our experience, some of the topics that we get asked about by prospective businesses and prospective residents who are considering a move to Vermillion:


* Classroom size and student to teacher ratios.


* Extracurricular programs including art, music, sports, clubs, etc.


* Strength of math and science programs.


* Technology and overall resources available to teachers and students.


* Education level of teachers (higher level degrees are important).


* Opportunities for students to do mentoring, school-to-work programs with businesses, and opportunities to develop leadership skills.


* Advanced learning programs (college credit in advance of high school graduation, etc.).


* How transportation of students is handled.


* Quality of teachers and if they have children of their own enrolled in the programs.


* Quality administration and leadership.


* Size, quality, and appearance of the facilities (including classrooms, auditoriums, theaters, labs, etc.).


* Comparative rankings to other schools.


* Level of involvement and support from the community.

We often involve school administration in our hostings of prospective businesses and families interested in Vermillion. Our school leaders do an outstanding job in representing their commitment to the students, to the quality programs that we have available in Vermillion, and to the community.

Feedback from these prospects always indicates that our school system is among the greatest strengths that we have in our community.

We should all agree that ensuring the future of our quality school system is important to our community. We should also understand that sometimes choices are difficult, especially when they involve how to best utilize limited resources and how to best invest in our future.

The Vermillion Area Chamber of Commerce & Development Company would like to encourage a "YES" vote in support of the opt-out on Tuesday, March 15. The support and involvement of all stakeholders is important to our community's future.

Board of directors

Vermillion Area

Chamber

of Commerce and

Development Company

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