Editorial: Vote in favor of operation levy

Published 9:41 am Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Albert Lea supports education.

We saw it in 2007 when the district voters approved the operating levy referendum by 59 percent. The election had more voters — not just percentage in favor, but actual voters — than a school levy election the same day in Mankato, a city with more than twice the population.

We’ve seen in elections for state representatives where education is the decisive issue. It was Rich Murray’s strong campaigning as a businessman in favor of schools that allowed him to unseat teacher Robin Brown in 2010. And it was his vote in the Legislature on the school shift that likely cost him the election in 2012.

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The issue of education, it can be argued, is the tipping point in a district that is about half red and half blue. Whatever color the candidate is, he or she had better support education. Because this community desires quality schools.

But that reputation alone is not why we are asking you to vote Tuesday in favor of the operating levy renewal Albert Lea Area Schools has on the ballot.

We are asking you to vote yes Tuesday to keep the levy because it simply is the right thing to do.

The importance of education should never be underestimated. It is one factor that affects so many other factors of a community: economy, workforce, planning, culture, recreation, quality of life, family life, taxes, public safety, public works and, of course, community pride.

Strong schools alone do not bolster a community’s economy. It takes a wide range of factors. But weak schools are a single factor that can quickly harm a community’s economy. The better the schools, the more likely we are to keep young families and to recruit outside talent to live and work here in Albert Lea. Companies want and need good people. Those good people need good schools. It’s symbiotic.

Of course, there are some folks who don’t want to support the local schools. To them, we say: Give back to a community that has given to you. Help families educate their children by chipping in Tuesday in favor of the operating levy.

Moreover, our district has proven its worth in saving tax dollars. It’s not asking to increase the operation levy, and that’s thanks to the savings and grants the administration has found. The school board is being prudent by not asking for more money. The district leaders merely want to keep the tax levels the same.

Our fear is that there could be a low turnout on Tuesday and the opponents to local taxes for education show up but the supporters stay home, thinking it will pass without their input.

No matter how busy life gets, we urge all voters in the school district to drop what they are doing and show how much Albert Lea support education by going to the polls Tuesday and voting yes.

Support our schools.