Readers sound off on upcoming school vote

Our generation needs to step up and vote yesMyself and many of the IDC board members would like to thank our superintendent and School Board members for responding to our petition to bring a school building plan forward.Several of the IDC members served on the building committee. These members have vast experience in building, as they have all been through some varying degree with their own facilities.The interest of the Industrial Development Corporation in this project is simple — we need an educated workforce!The best employees are typically homegrown and we need to capitalize on that. If employment opportunities are important to you, then you really need to consider the consequences of your decision BEFORE you vote.While industries nationwide face staffing issues, a contributing factor to the success of a business is reliant on their community’s willingness to invest in themselves. This means they maintain their infrastructure, schools, hospitals and quality of life initiatives to keep and attract new folks.The building committee listened to the educators, researched other facilities and shared methods that worked in their experiences. There is no fluff in this proposal. Every square inch has been accounted for to include hallways that will be used as learning spaces.Generations before us invested in our schools and in our future. It is time for this generation to do the same by voting YES on Feb. 7.Grant Anderson, New HamptonEducation is an investment, not an expenseNew Hampton has been our home for over 20 years.  Only the youngest of our five children attended school here, graduating high school in 2000.  We feel it is our responsibility and obligation as homeowners, landowners and business owners to provide the best possible education for the children of Chickasaw County, now and in years to come.We believe education needs to be seen as an investment rather than an expense.  We very much appreciated the Letter to the Editor from Tom Frantzen, “Let's show we're not a 'dying town’” and hope it touched the hearts and minds of other readers.Ted A. Harms andJennifer Judson-Harms, New HamptonBoard urges voters to get informed, vote on Feb. 7We would like to share a few thoughts on the upcoming bond referendum.  First, we want to convey our appreciation and thanks to the parents, students, staff, and community members who have worked tirelessly in coming up with the proposed building plans.  They have put in a lot of time and energy in coming up with the plans for this referendum.  We would also like to thank all of the community members who have taken the time to attend one of our information sessions so that they have the information they need to make an informed decision on this important topic.Second, we would like to share a few facts about this project. First, the amount that is being proposed is $19,415,000. This will lead to an increase in the tax levy of $1.60. If bids come in higher than this amount, we will have to revise the plan to keep it within the amount approved by the voters.  There is a small part of the overall budget for contingencies including change orders that may come up, but we must approve all of them and if they exceed the total amount that was approved by voters, we will need to reduce costs in other areas. We know the impact that taxes have on our residents and we are committed to doing what we say we will do with this project. Our goal in paying for this project is to pay as much as we can from the district’s SAVE fund to minimize the impact on property taxes.  That is why approximately 40 percent of the total cost of this project will be paid by our SAVE funds with agriculture and residential property each paying about 25 percent of the cost with commercial and industrial property owners paying about 10 percent of the cost.Finally, this is a community project that requires input from everyone in our district.  There will be one more meeting on Thursday, Feb. 2 in the Middle School Auditorium. The meeting will start at 6:30 with tours available at 6.  If you haven’t been to a meeting yet, we would like to encourage you to attend to get the facts and have your questions answered so you too can make an informed decision.We would also encourage everyone to take time to vote on Feb. 7.The New Hampton Community School BoardWe can’t afford to wait for the next school planOur community has the opportunity to show that it values education.  The “Future of the Chickasaws Committee” has worked hard to come up with a plan which meets the needs of our students and our future students. Our community should not continue to vote no, thinking there is a better plan.  We cannot keep thinking “I might vote yes on the next plan.” Waiting is not an option. How can it be when it comes to health care people expect a welcoming exam room and state of the art equipment for scans and surgery, but yet feel that the classroom designed 100 years ago is “good enough” for students?We as a community need to provide quality learning situations and be fiscally responsible. We have reached the point where it makes more sense to build a new learning space than continue to spend dollars on an outdated facility.The communities around us send a strong message when they will vote yes to support their school bond issues. They are telling the students their future is important to their communities.  They are telling businesses and potential new families a strong school is important to the community.New Hampton, our school district is at a crossroads.   Help send the message that students and their education is important.  Please join us in voting “YES” on this important bond issue.Larry and Joanne Tupper, New HamptonYes vote is a wise investment for our futureAlthough my own four children will not necessarily benefit directly from this new school building, I am voting yes on Feb. 7.Although my family will say that I am a penny-pincher when it comes to spending money, I am voting yes.Although my friends will say that I am conservative when  it comes to raising taxes, I am voting yes.Although I know as a teacher that a new building alone will not automatically improve education and student learning, I am voting yes.Although I realize as a councilman that a new building will not spontaneously grow industry and Main Street, I am voting yes.And although I have a strong sense of nostalgia as a proud New Hampton High School alum for the old 1913 building, I am voting yes.I am voting yes because a yes vote is a vote for strategically positioning our school system and — ultimately — our community for future growth. When you envision what our community is to look like in 10, 20, 30 or more years, what do you see for us and future Chickasaws?A yes vote is a vote for a vital investment for a positive future at a critical juncture for our school system and community. In my mind, it is a wise investment worth making and worth making now, and I urge residents to make that investment, too, by voting yes on Feb. 7.And on Feb. 8, I hope that we will be able to say together as a community, “It’s a great day to be a Chickasaw.”Cory McDonald, New HamptonLet’s vote yes and do it for our communityAs we have all seen or heard in the past few weeks or months, the upcoming school bond issue is a big concern for the community.I would hope, that we all look deep inside and do what’s best for this Chickasaw community as a whole, not just the town or the school district.This affects us all in the long run. We may not think it directly affects us personally, but it does. If we look back on history, we all know the number of businesses that are no longer on the main streets or in our rural communities around us.As we look at Ionia, Alta Vista, North Washington and Lawler to name just a few. At one time they all had thriving businesses in their own little community. Things as grocery stores, shoe store, creamery, restaurants, schools and the list, does not end there.I know from experience, as a lot of the area residents or your parents do, that once lost, a business such as these almost never comes back to the communities. New Hampton has a lot of empty store fronts on its very own main street, as we speak. As these businesses close and people move away, the tax base becomes smaller, the property values decline and the downward spiral continues.Many of these communities, struggle to repair their streets, sanitary sewers and water system. I look back to the small towns and can only think unless we step forward now and do all we can to revitalize the community it to will wither, like others before have.That is why, I am urging the community to come together and vote yes on the school bond referendum Feb. 7.Diane and I have four daughters, three of whom have graduated from New Hampton High School and the youngest is in her freshman year.I could easily say this school will not benefit me or my children, but it is much bigger than that. It is the “community” which we all love that is asking for your yes vote.Tom Fitzgerald, New HamptonGet informed on referendum and vote yes on Feb. 7Many of the Industrial Development Corporation board members, along with myself, would like to thank our superintendent and School Board members for responding to our petition to bring an alternative school building plan forward.Several of the IDC members served on the building committee. These members have vast experience in building, as they have all, been through some varying degree with their own facilities.The interest of the Industrial Development Corporation in this project is simple: We need an educated workforce! The best employees are typically those that remain in their hometowns, and we need to capitalize on that so that we can grow New Hampton.If employment opportunities are important to you, then you really need to consider all the factors before you vote on Feb. 7.Industries all around the country are facing staffing issues, a contributing factor to a business’s success, and I can tell you that one of the key factors in attracting good employees or keeping them here, is a community’s willingness to invest in itself.That means we have to have good infrastructure, hospitals, schools and those quality of life things like parks and entertainment.Chickasaw County has experienced a 20 percent  reduction in population (from 2000-2010 Census) despite record employment opportunities. Draw your own conclusion as to how we are doing locally and I think you’ll realize we have to invest in our community.I’m proud of the fact that so many residents served on the committee that came up with the plans for a new school and I’m grateful that they listened to so many different voices — including those from teachers, administrators, residents, etc.I know others have said it, but it’s true. There isn’t fluff, there isn’t any wasted space, in this proposal.We did our homework on this; all we are asking is for you to do the same, by attending the upcoming town hall meeting at New Hampton Middle School on Thursday evening — a tour will be held at 6 p.m. and the presentation follows at 6:30 — and I think you’ll see why we’re asking you to join us in voting YES on Feb. 7.Andy Hugeback, New Hampton

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