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Published March 08 2014

Forum editorial: Vote ‘yes’ for future of schools

A “yes” vote on Tuesday’s Fargo School District ballot will preserve the flexibility the schools need to maintain and enhance the quality of education for students. There is no question about that.

The record of the past 15 years is as clear as it is stellar: Fargo has a first-class public school system because the school board and administration have been able to solve problems before they became crises. Stewardship of resources has been careful and visionary. Appropriate expenditures for curriculum, staff, new classroom space, building upgrades and the amenities that make Fargo schools among the best in the nation have been possible because budgeting latitude makes for timely responses to immediate needs and, more importantly, projected needs.

The Legislature’s punitive mill levy cap (the reason for Tuesday’s vote) is a one-size-fits-all remedy for problems that do not exist in every district. It’s a typical ham-handed response to the squeaky wheel, in that a few noisy complainers in a few school districts don’t like to pay school property taxes, no matter the level. Or that some people want to undermine elected school boards by using the Legislature to micromanage local schools, rather than doing the hard work of running for the school board.

The outrage is that lawmakers would respond to such corrosive nonsense. They give lip service to local control of schools, and then pass legislation that is an undisguised attack on local control.

The reality in the Fargo district is that school property taxes have been reduced substantially. The district has been able to accommodate growth and the needs of a modern public education without adding to the tax burden. Working closely with parents and others, school officials have conducted dozens of listening and working sessions to develop long-range facilities plans that have been defined by the expectations of school district patrons. That’s a record of which any school system would be proud.

A “yes” vote Tuesday keeps the Fargo School District on an upward path to even more excellence. It ensures that elected school board members will continue to work closely with the people of the district and with professional education staff to improve and enhance the schools. A “yes” vote is for today’s school children, and for the students of the future.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.