It's been longer than a week since the Nov. 3 election, and I'm still trying to figure out how the school district's request for more money so it can keep operating didn't win the people's vote. It lost by only 27 votes, but a loss is a loss.
So I've come up with some possible reasons.
10. At least 27 people who were for the operating levy forgot to come to the election, or were too busy to come. (It could happen.)
9. The majority of voters doesn't trust any kind of government. Why should the schools be any different?
8. District voters are mad at the state government for not properly funding our schools, and they felt that a "no" vote would send a signal of their dissatisfaction. The fact that they're sacrificing the education of about 800 students for at least a year or two is worth the price for them.
7. District voters don't like being compared unfavorably to other districts. Their solution is to allow our district to fall even further behind until the state (or someone) will simply HAVE to step in and give us the money we need to operate.
6. At least 27 voters in the district are originally from other districts in the area. They intentionally voted against the levy because they secretly favor the schools from which they graduated.
5. There were never budget problems when Mr. Helling was superintendent. It must be the board, administration, and the schools that have just screwed everything up. Of course, that was 30 years ago, and absolutely everything about education - except the original mandate to provide public education to all - has changed since then.
4. The schools are always griping about a lack of money. Just let them go. Kimball doesn't need the schools.
3. Kimball is too small to have its own, independent schools. About half the schools in Minnesota are smaller than Kimball. Using this argument, let's just consolidate half the schools in the state and bus kids to the bigger schools.
2. Those who voted against the operating levy are fixated on something the district, school administrators, or some teacher did that ticked them off 20, 30 or 40 years ago. A grudge is a grudge, after all. Those "no" votes will teach them a lesson.
1. The majority of voters in the district, albeit a slight majority, doesn't value education. Of course, this is the scariest of all possibilities. But it could be the most plaus-ible. If a few more voters truly valued education, whether it's for their children or their neighbor's children, they would have passed the levy. The modest amount of money needed to keep the school district functional would happily be paid by voters and taxpayers who value education.
Okay, many of these "reasons" are just plain guesses, and biting with sarcasm too. But I'll admit that I just can't figure out why the majority, a slight majority, voted against the operating levy.
A number of voters are disappointed, to say the least, that the referendum failed. No one seems to have the answer to the big question: Why?
No one knows what happens next, either.
I know of two things that won't happen anytime soon: replacement of the 16-year-old math curriculum for grades K-12, and replacement of the gym floor at the elementary school. Both are sorely needed, but so are heat, snow removal, and electricity. We've already borrowed more than $1 million just to pay necessary bills for this school year to fill the extra gap caused by delayed state reimbursements.
Another reality is that, if the Kimball school district ever does consolidate, it won't be to any one district. The geographically large Kimball district most likely would be split between six districts (Annandale, Dassel-Cokato, Litchfield, Eden Valley-Watkins, ROCORI, and St. Cloud), not to mention the options of private schools or homeschooling. If the "Kimball" schools go away, they won't come back as a "something-Kimball" district, ever.
As a business owner in Kimball, I fear for Kimball's future. Without an educated and trainable workforce, quality businesses won't locate here, and the jobs they would have provided will go elsewhere.
As a newspaper publisher, I fear for our future. If the schools go away, and take so many jobs, students and families with them, there's not much left for the newspaper. There won't be many businesses left to advertise, and we'll definitely lose readers.
As the parent of an elementary student, I am devastated. If I weren't still so angry, I'd be crying.
But I'm nothing if not persistent. I'm not ready to give up. Not yet anyway. The referendum lost by 27 votes, not 200.
Feel free to share your thoughts about last week's vote. (Keep it civil! All letters to the editor must include a name, address, and phone number for verification.)