I am a father of two daughters who spent their entire K-12 education in the Grand Forks Public Schools and a grandfather with three granddaughters currently enrolled in the Grand Forks Public Schools. I have been honored to serve on the Grand Forks School Board since 2000. However, I am writing today not as a School Board member, nor am I representing the board or district. I am writing as a taxpayer, father and grandfather.
I encourage everyone to become educated on issues around the upcoming school referendum on June 22. An excellent source of information is the Grand Forks Public Schools website at https://www.gfschools.org and click on the referendum tab. Be aware there are rogue websites out there that have misleading and dishonest information.
One question I rarely hear is what happens if the referendum fails. It is well known that the district is having significant financial issues that are multifactorial. State funding has been flat or minimal for several years. In addition, our local taxes have historically been low for the school district when compared to our peer school districts in North Dakota.
In Grand Forks, 31% of our property taxes goes to the school district. In Bismarck, West Fargo and Fargo, 46-53% of their property taxes go to their school districts. If the referendum fails, the financial issues of the school district will continue to worsen over time. This will undoubtedly lead to further reductions in the budget, most likely leading to further staff reductions and elimination of programs. None of that will allow the district to help our children grow together to enrich the world.
I would encourage all voters to become educated about the upcoming school referendum. I would also encourage them to follow the lead of the board who voted to advance the two referendum questions to the public on an 8-1 vote and a unanimous vote.
Eric R. Lunn, Grand Forks