Addressing taxpayers of Minneota

To the editor:

As taxpayers of the Minneota School District you have, no doubt, been inundated with information regarding the upcoming referendum on the bond issue. Having been born and raised in Minneota, served on the Minneota School Board, served as your city administrator for 14 years, I know first-hand the implications both good and bad surrounding this vote

The selling of this idea does not come easily. However, I did find it a bit offensive to pit one constituency against the other, as some of the information in the last Mascot stated – agricultural taxes would go down. Depending upon where you stand, this is good news, or it is bad news, but it does invite criticism of those getting some relief, and those who do not. The fact of the matter is, if this vote passes the money HAS to come from somewhere – and yes, the State of Minnesota will kick in, but who of us does not pay state taxes?

Then we get into the why. If the bathrooms are that bad – it did not just happen overnight. When we start throwing out statements about safety, everyone jumps on board. But perhaps the priority in which the updates are being done bears some consideration

The elementary bathrooms have emitted a foul odor and have been clogging up for a long time – that did not just happen. And to say that if the bond issue does not pass, then that wing will have to be shut down, that is using the bully tactic to get the outcome you want, as is telling the staff that they need to get out there and sell this idea – they should get three people to vote “yes” and it will pass.

And, perhaps the elaborateness of the latest project could have been honed back – such as $40,000 +- for the soffit board (that is not even solid wood) that drops from the ceiling to the walls around the new concession and Hall of Fame area. Really? And perhaps, if safety is really the concern, something should have been done with the tile flooring that had asbestos in the glue – which must be chipped exposing the asbestos right?

Now let’s look at some demographics (as taken from DATA US and the US Census Bureau):

School district population = 2,494; % under age 5 = 6.01; % under age 6 = 19.41; % ages 5-17 = 18.68; median age = 43.3. This equates to roughly 56% of the population of voting age. All things equal – as in everything else – if the bond referendum passes the bonded debt of the district would be $12,849,000 making the individual debt roughly $5,151/person regardless of age. Keep in mind that each year your share of the debt would decrease as payments are made.

I then looked at the demographics for the city of Minneota. Population – 1,362; median age – 42.5 yr; poverty rate – 8.51%; median household income – $56,458; median housing value – $95,600; male median Income – $37,415; female median income – $24,757. This data proves what we all already know – that most households have both heads of household working.

That intrigued me further so I ventured to look at the administration costs of the school district. It took a bit, but I was able to obtain the salaries for the superintendent ($117,080); high school principal ($88,500 + $2,500 for being the Comm Ed Coord); elementary principal ($79,900).

What intrigued me more was when I learned the relationship between the superintendent and elementary principal — which reeked of nepotism — far too many times, administration will say that they cannot find a qualified person for the position to justify their recommendation……I would ask how extensive was the search?

Minnesota State Procedure 4.10.1 Nepotism – Part 2 – reads “Definitions. For purposes of this procedure, “family or household member” means the employee’s spouse, child or stepchild, ward of the employee or employee’s spouse, parent of the employee or employee’s spouse, rother or sister of the employee or employee’s spouse, grandparent or grandchild of the employee or employee’s spouse, nephew or niece of the employee or employee’s spouse, brother-in-law or sister-in-la of the employee of employee’s spouse, or other members of the employee’s household whether or not related by blood or marriage.

Part 3 Subpart A (reads in part)- Nepotism prohibited. Members of the same family or household are eligible for employment in the System. Except as provided in this procedure, a direct supervisory relationship shall not exist between family or household members, nor shall on member of a family or household assume the role of investigator, or decision-maker with respect to i) making decisions on personnel matters, concerning the continued employment or promotion of, a family or household member.

In further research, I learned that the elementary principal does not report to the superintendent, which would typically be the scenario if it did not involve relatives. That individual reports to some board members. I feel that this too, lends itself to some scrutiny — review, discipline, corrective action for employees should be unbiased — yet this situation would make that difficult, if not impossible and in my opinion, does not pass the smell test.

The high school principal’s spouse is the principal in the Ivanhoe School District ($54-58,000) – and would report to the superintendent (who is the Minneota Superintendent – $10-15,000) and that is how it should be.

We all know what it means to have a school in our city and it is the responsibility of each voter to make sure that they are as informed as they can be before they vote. I urge you to keep on top of how your school board members are allocating your tax dollars.

Betty J Thomsen

Park Rapids

Correction

The wrong city was listed under the name of the letter writer on the Aug. 18 editorial page. The letter was responding to the then upcoming Minneota bond referendum election. The writer is from Park Rapids.

COMMENTS