Education is a quality-of-life investment. Most of us parents embrace this concept as we nudge our children towards college or some kind of post-secondary training hoping they will find their spark and a successful career. Some parents take this understanding further and work hard to provide their children with purposeful trips and educational experiences during their school years. We do this knowing that a foundational knowledge about the world we live in is one of many variables that add up to raising a successful young adult.
The investment of education is also an ongoing discussion at the local, state, and national level. Here in Pequot Lakes, our community has invested in creating top-notch facilities for our students. That decision did not happen without significant discussion, and it was championed by many community members who are passionate about investing in the future of our children. The discussions this past year about our district strategic plan have made very clear that the investment in our buildings was just step one. Our parents and our local business community expect our schools to deliver a world-class education that is personalized, rigorous, relevant, and focused on preparing every student for success in tomorrow’s world. That is no small charge, and it will certainly require the investment of time, energy, and dollars. This fall our schools took several steps toward delivering on these expectations including the shift to an aligned seven-period-day schedule in the middle school and high school to create an additional hour for enrichment and intervention classes. An additional teacher was hired to teach secondary STEM classes, a math interventionist position was created at Eagle View Elementary to help students struggling to master math concepts, and the middle school counselor position was expanded to full time. These are real investments in student learning that our community can celebrate and should support. These investments create returns such as the $487,000 in college credits earned last year by Pequot Lakes High School students. These are credits earned without the tuition bill to parents.
Like all school boards in MN, our board is wrestling with how to contain costs and raise revenues while still delivering on the high expectations of our community. Pequot Lakes Schools receives less funding per student to run our schools than nearly every other district in the state. In 2012-13 our district was 318th out of 335 districts in operating revenue per pupil, and our rank fell to the bottom five in 2013-14. This lack of revenue has resulted in a bus fleet with fifteen buses that need to be replaced, a lack of enrichments and interventions for our students, and very little investment in developing the teachers who are charged with educating our students. Our school board has been working diligently this past year to invest in these areas that are critical to implementing the strategic plan our community has called for. Continuing these investments beyond 2014-15 will require raising revenues through local levy dollars. Having world-class schools is more than having the great facilities we are blessed with. It is indeed an investment in the quality of life in our community. I am proud to live in and serve a community that believes investing in the education of our children is the right thing to do.
-- Chris Lindholm, Superintendent of Schools