From: Michael J. Maher, PhD
Please listen to the community responses to your plan and stop assuming it is the best plan because it probably is not. Secondly, be honest with the community. It was not honest to not include next year’s increase in student state revenue in your budget shortfall forecast. Please look at the history of school closing. Dakota Schools started a charter school, and when it finally had to close due to lack of students, many of the students probably went to La Crescent. Ridgeway was closed and reopened as a charter school and is a going operation with some students being bussed up there to get a quality education. (I was a school bus driver, so I know.) About a year or two ago, I attended a presentation by the former school superintendent in Rollingstone, and the folks said back then that they would probably send their child to Lewiston.
Please think of your job in terms of customer service. If your customers do not get what they want and deserve, they can and will go somewhere else. Remember, there is the Montessori School, Winona Catholic Schools, and St. Martin’s Lutheran School, all of which provide excellent education and would love to see their enrollment increase. I am not a betting man, but I would bet 861 could lose up to half of those students if it displaces. Then what would happen to the budget?
Over the years, 861 has fallen below all Big 9 schools in state student achievement scores. I have voted for an increase in funding in the hope that the district could improve their state scores, but to no avail. Closing schools, increasing class sizes, and laying off teachers will not help improve student achievement, and our school district will remain at the bottom of school achievement. As a senior citizen and voter, I will not longer vote to approve poor decisions.
In the past, 861 successfully closed Lincoln Elementary, then said it was going to close Central, but still uses it and absorbs the costs. If the district has excess space, close Central and move its functions to other buildings.