We need to get this one right

A task force consisting of approximately 30 New Prague Area School District residents began meeting last week, and will continue to meet for at least three more weeks, to examine the district's strategic facilities plan and make a recommendation regarding a bond election before the end of the year.

May's $46 million bond referendum failed for several reasons. The Lonsdale school may have been the main reason, but others voted against the bond for different reasons. Some felt the tax burden would be too high on the district, some didn't like the idea of a school or schools located outside of New Prague and others because they felt the board didn't make their case for the referendum as proposed.

The task force will look at what reasoning went into May’s referendum question, the logistics of a shared school in Lonsdale with the Montgomery-Lonsdale School District, the need for two or three new buildings and more.

The task force will meet tonight (Thursday, Aug. 5), and again on Tuesday, Aug. 10 and Thursday, Aug. 19. The meetings are open to the public. If anyone has concerns about the district's building plans, they should attend one of these meetings or speak with one of the members of the task force.

According to the numbers presented at last week's meeting, three of the four schools in the district are at or above capacity, and the biggest need is for elementary schools. The district needs to pass a referendum this fall to meet the demands of increased enrollment. If a referendum isn't passed this year, it will be at least 2007 before a new school can be opened.

Everyone — the task force, the school board and the voters — need to get this one right. If the district fails, it will be the students, and the district's educational reputation, that will suffer.

(Chuck Kajer)

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