Vote yes March 15 by the Plain Talk There are plenty of things to pick at when you examine the finances of the Vermillion School District.
The bottom line on the district�s financial ledger, especially relating to the general fund, has been a source of controversy for years.
The Vermillion School Board has been forced to cut, and cut again, to balance that budget.
And, without a successful opt-out of $800,000 annually for the next five years on property tax limitations, over $400,000 in cuts will soon be on the horizon.
We�ve tried our best in the last month or two to explain why things are strangely the way they are when it comes to school funding.
Enrollment has been declining. That adds up to a loss of over $1.5 million in state aid revenue in the last six years.
More than just property taxes have been limited in the last decade. The brakes have also been put on the annual increase in state aid received by each school district. Schools can count on increases that maybe come close to the rate of inflation.
All while dealing with a host of matters over which they have no control. Many of them are costly.
They range from federal and state mandates that are under-funded, or not funded at all, to skyrocketing costs of health insurance, or spikes in gasoline and heating fuel prices.
We know some people are concerned about administrative costs in the district. We hope these people will recall that the school board has trimmed back expenses in this area. There is no longer an assistant principal at the middle school. The assistant principal�s position at the high school has been replaced by a dean of students, which has brought about savings in benefits and salary.
Many people, no doubt, already have their minds made up. Come Tuesday, they�ll vote no.
We can sympathize, to a degree. Let�s face it. Who likes to pay higher taxes?
We urge people to do the right thing Tuesday.
Vote yes for the opt-out.
It�s time to remind ourselves of the driving force behind public education in South Dakota. It�s found in Article VIII, Section 1 of the state constitution.
It�s a summary, really, of the dreams of the early pioneers of our state when it comes to offering public education: �A general and uniform system of public schools wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all; and to adopt all suitable means to secure to the people the advantages and opportunities of education.�
It�s time to preserve that �uniform system of public schools� in the Vermillion School District.
Vote yes for the opt-out.
We know there are a lot of concerns about public school financing, not only in our district, but statewide.
Locally, the best way to address those concerns is to preserve what we have by supporting the opt-out.
Then become involved. If you aren�t confident money is being spent wisely, lobby the school board and the Legislature for change.
The Vermillion Plain Talk editorials reflect the opinion of Plain Talk editor David Lias. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org