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LETTER: Budget cut of 85 teachers equates to 85 jobs leaving our district

We are two of many concerned parents and community members in School District 622, North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale. We compel citizens to consider a vote of yes on the ballot question this Nov. 8.

Our three children attend Carver Elementary in south Maplewood — a school we are incredibly proud of. Our school is known for its diversity and inclusion, socially conscious values, passionate teachers and staff, and strong academic performance.

Increasing per-student spending is not just an issue of ethical responsibility to children, families, seniors, businesses, and the broader community — it is a smart financial decision.

Strong schools are directly connected to positive community outcomes — like less crime, higher home values, more employment, etc. In particular, the values of our properties increase substantially if we have desirable schools. The average monthly increase in property tax if the levy is approved is $15.60, which is nominal considering the potential of improved home values.

It is also considered common sense that people want to move to, live in and invest in communities where the schools are supported, funded and perform well.

Businesses are attracted to communities with a local skilled workforce, which a strong education provides. A high-quality education cannot happen if schools are not adequately funded. If people are employed, earning and spending locally, and businesses want to operate in Maplewood, Oakdale and North St. Paul, we all benefit.

622 has not been able to approve an increase in its levy funding since 2002 — that’s 14 years without an increase! Last November, more than 80 percent of other districts in Minnesota approved their levies, why not us? Given the current underinvestment in District 622 schools, our communities are not reaping the financial reward and positive outcomes they could be.

To parents, community members and businesses, we look like we do not support our children and schools. This is a big problem for all of us!

Though District 622 has been independently recognized for its fiscal efficiency and integrity, it cannot maintain or expand existing high-performing programs like STEM, enrichment or College in the Schools, nor can it improve security and safety systems for students and faculty without additional funding. In fact, the district has made over $32 million in cuts to teachers, support staff, programming, classroom supplies and resources, technology assets, music, and athletics. In the last two years alone, District 622 has cut 85 teaching positions. These are jobs leaving our community! These are students — our future community members — not receiving the education they need to perform well in our economy.

As you can see, District 622 does not currently appear to be supported well by its community members; therefore, our communities do not appear as attractive to live in, work in, or invest in.

We can fix this! Our district desperately needs additional funding from local stakeholders — please vote yes on Nov. 8!

We can do better, and the time is now!

Yours in community,

Tara Lemke Ebenhoch and Marcus Ebenhoch