The Pequot Lakes community has been engaged in a visioning and planning process over the past eight months called the “Thriving Communities Initiative” that has included input, ideas and discussion involving upwards of 200 people. “Keep investing in good schools” was voiced as one of the top priorities of our community through this process along with “developing internship and job shadowing opportunities for students.” It really is remarkable to hear about this kind of support for our students and our schools from the community at large!
The Thriving Communities Initiative (TCI) process has now made the shift to action planning and implementation. Three task forces are currently leading these efforts focused on economics, quality of life, and workforce development. The workforce development team recently engaged in a good discussion focused on trying to interpret or understand what the community actually meant by voicing “keep investing in good schools.” Clearly this is important to a significant number of people, but how do we put actions to this priority? The task force has discussed two possibilities so far: a) advocating more assertively with state legislators for funding that is equitable to most other MN districts; and b) re-launching the Patriot Foundation with a new and broader approach. My question now is, does our community value investing in our schools enough to put action towards these two ideas?
The Patriot Foundation existed in our community for many years focused on providing scholarships for students and mini-grant opportunities for teachers. It was championed by some wonderful local supporters of education, but maintaining the momentum to keep it going ultimately became too burdensome for the small team trying to push it along. The workforce development task force has discussed re-launching the Patriot Foundation with a different structure focused on celebrating alumni and the positive impact Patriots are having across our communities, state, country and world. Structured for raising revenues and building up an endowment fund much like higher education and many nonprofits, the idea is to broaden the purpose of the foundation to support our students and our district in many ways. The task force is looking for a handful of folks to come together and form the re-launched Patriot Foundation Board. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 568-4996 if you are interested in this long-term impact opportunity!
Advocating more assertively on behalf of our students with our state legislators is something everyone can engage in. The reality is - our district receives less operational dollars per student than over 90% of the school districts in MN. This ultimately results in higher class sizes, less investment in training our teachers, less student activities, less technology, and rundown equipment. If the legislature increases the general education formula 1.25% or 1.5% each year as is currently being discussed, our district will face budget reductions in the coming years that will undermine implementation of our district 2020 vision. Please speak up on behalf of our Patriot students and contact your legislators today. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out if I can be of help. Go Patriots!
-- Chris Lindholm, Superintendent of Schools