Letter: School referendum: Questions assumption of student growthAs a mother with three children in the River Falls public school system, I’m all about the kids, just like everyone else who values our community’s children. But the desire to see our children succeed academically shouldn’t be predicated on spending millions of dollars on unnecessary building projects.
By: Peggy Steffl, town of Clifton, River Falls Journal
As a mother with three children in the River Falls public school system, I’m all about the kids, just like everyone else who values our community’s children. But the desire to see our children succeed academically shouldn’t be predicated on spending millions of dollars on unnecessary building projects.
When the proposed $38,860,000 (let’s just round-up to $39-million) referendum was first presented to the public, a primary justification for building additions onto our schools was the assumption that there will be an increase in the student population.
Sounds convincing, right? Well, not really!
Sure, there’s been a slight increase in kindergarten enrollment the last two years, but that doesn’t indicate future student growth. District enrollment varies year to year. Sometimes there’s a slight increase, but sometimes there’s a decrease.
The school district hired an independent company to compile a demographic report containing detailed analyses on population trends, the age groups of the population, and other regional factors. According to this study, there is no evidence that the school age population is growing in our school district.
Factors that indicate whether student enrollment might increase or decrease include variables such as the cost of housing in the area, high property tax rates, state and local taxes, increasing fuel costs for families who commute for employment, and the fact that River Falls has an aging population.
By analyzing current trends, the demographic report indicates that our school population will likely remain the same. It also presents scenarios where the school population could possibly grow, but who has a crystal ball?
Maybe someday our school buildings will need to be enlarged, but let’s just wait and see what’s truly going to happen before we start further raising property taxes, and mire our school district in more debt, for projects that we don’t actually need.