I didn’t vote for the Leopold referendum last spring, and I still believe that was the correct vote. If the community had voted to build a second school on Leopold then we would not have the opportunity for the community to vote “Yes” on this referendum, which I believe is a better financial and long term solution for our growth. When I was asked to participate on the Westside Long Range Planning Task Force, I was determined to find a better solution for our district than building another school.
I approached this job with study and concentration, as did many of the Task Force participants. In my effort to not build a new school I looked at shifting students East, shifting South, moving 5th graders to middle school, and moving neighborhoods to other schools and in the end I found it was more than just filling seats. The shifts made equity uneven. One shift created a school with less than 5 % low income while others were closer to 70%. Other shifts still left some schools too full because the seats were not where the growth is coming from. Some shifts worked but only for two years. After many hours of discussion and shifting, it became clear that we could shift students if we wanted to; split neighborhoods, shift them again in two years, create schools of inequity, provide 100’s of students with a bus ride of 45 minutes or more each way, and change our classroom quality so that teachers no longer had classrooms but carts that they moved from room to room (Art and Music Teachers). When we thought about those options, none of us wanted it for our own children or grandchildren and we believed that for $30 a year, others in the community would prefer that their children and grandchildren not be handed one of these options either. There are other options, but none with the long term solutions that the current referendum provides.
I was not a believer last go round because the numbers and location did not make sense to me, but I am a firm believer in this referendum and a quick drive on HWY M and viewing the numbers on the MMSD website for Chavez, Stephens, Crestwood, Falk and of course Leopold will let you know it is now or later. Fiscally there is no reason to wait as the building cost will continue to climb ever higher. The three part question provides approval for funds to build the new Westside school currently referred to as Linden Park; refinance an expansion to Leopold’s building by converting current space and adding cafeteria space, and the third part ask voters to approve refinancing a debt that could save the district money. These are fiscally good decisions, with positive long term results, that have been discussed at length by many good citizens in our community. Please view the MMSD video or check out the vast amount of data available to citizens on their website at www.mmsd.org. Most of all, VOTE November 7th!
Mary Kay Battaglia
Parent of Crestwood and Jefferson Children
Member of Westside Task Force