It isn’t often that I find sanity on the St. Cloud Times Opinion Page. This LTE from Loren Weinberg fits the criteria for sanity.

One of the points Mr. Weinberg makes is that the sample ballot and the flyers sent out by the St. Cloud School Board are significantly different. According to Mr. Weinberg, “the ballot … only mentions the final amount, $167 million.” Meanwhile, the flyer sent out by the School Board tells voters “exactly how much will be spent on each of the four projects.”

That’s an important difference. Information in a flyer might or might not be accurate. It certainly isn’t legally binding. If a majority of voters vote to approve the bonding request, the School Board won’t be obligated to spend the $167,000,000 on the things their flyer said they’ll spend the money on.

Voting no on this referendum is the only responsible thing to do. First, school district residents don’t have any guarantees that the money will be spent on the projects the School Board says they’ll be spent on. Second, school district residents haven’t seen blueprints of what the Apollo renovation or the new Tech High School look like. Third, school district residents didn’t have input on the front end as to what the district’s needs are. Supposedly, the plan is for both high schools to hold 1,800 students each.

John Palmer, now a retired professor from St. Cloud State, worded things this way:

The fundamental problem I have is, if you were going to be buying something as an individual, the first thing you would do is identify the need — not the want. I can see no evidence of what specifically the need is. The capacity of the two new buildings, if this should pass, would be 1,800 (each). Enrollment right now is about 2,800 (total between Tech and Apollo). I don’t know if that capacity would be high, low or in between because I don’t believe there has been any work done on determining what it will be in the future.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve known John since 2005 and consider him a friend. The points that John makes aren’t just legitimate. They’re the heart of the matter.

There’s nothing I’ve heard that suggests that high school enrollment will increase by 30% over the next 20 years. The recent trend, in fact, is heading in the opposite direction. If that’s the case, why should school district residents build schools that are significantly bigger than what’s needed?

It isn’t difficult to argue that the School Board wants us to essentially write them a blank check, then trust them. However, it’s difficult for thoughtful people to trust this school board considering how secretive and deceptive they’ve been.

Voting no is the only right way to vote.

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