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Letter: Crookston voters, reject the school district's referendum

This letter concerns the Crookston School District's referendum, which is coming up for vote Tuesday. ? The bus garage: About 70 percent of the new steel building would be unheated with a gravel floor. But the cost is $3.425 million or about $122...

This letter concerns the Crookston School District's referendum, which is coming up for vote Tuesday.

▇ The bus garage: About 70 percent of the new steel building would be unheated with a gravel floor. But the cost is $3.425 million or about $122 per square foot; at that rate, it would cost $87,840 for an average, unattached two-car garage.

This project needs a No vote because of its unnecessarily high costs.

▇ The gymnasium: Please explain why we suddenly need more gym space. Ten years ago, the school district sold off a usable gym along with the old junior high for $25,000. With about 120 seniors when the building was sold, only 86 seniors this year and no signs of increasing enrollment, there is no justification for more gym space now.

At $4.875 million, this project deserves a No vote.

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▇ The football field: We share the current facility with the University of Minnesota Crookston and pay 50 percent of maintenance costs (about $4,000 per year), with no other annual lease costs involved.

In a small community with limited resources, it is economically responsible to share underused facilities such as this. This project also deserves a No vote.

In 1978, we graduated 182 seniors. Today, there are 86 seniors and 70 first graders. With these declining numbers, why do we need additional athletic and bus facilities?

Then there are the custodial, electrical, heating and maintenance costs associated with these projects. Will those costs be going up, too? Will there be money available to pay for those expenses, or will we be faced with yet another levy soon?

The school district currently has 18 years remaining on a $15 million referendum and an operating levy with five years remaining. It's also projected to be down about $460,000 in revenue for the current academic year.

Given declining enrollments and the district's financial situation, voting in favor of this $11.45 million referendum with a 20-year lifespan would be financially irresponsible.

Last but not least: As a school district that should be in the business of educating students, why are we proposing to put millions of dollars into athletics when we are below state averages in so many different areas academically?

Shouldn't we be more concerned with better preparing our students?

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Neal Benoit

Crookston

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