Future of Esko School Decided By Voters

By KBJR News 1

October 10, 2012 Updated Oct 10, 2012 at 12:13 PM CDT

Esko, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- Esko voters will be casting ballots on two funding questions involving their school district on Election Day.

The first is an operation levy that proposes an increase in general education revenue by $341 per student.

There are just under 1,000 students in the Esko school district.

That does not include those who are under open enrollment.

The additional funds would finance school programs, such as industrial technology, which has been shut down for the last eight years due to the lack of funding.

Esko is the only Minnesota school without an industrial technology program.

The second question will ask Esko voters to approve a $2.7 million referendum to upgrade the aging sports facilities.

"Esko has some very old outdoor athletic fields and activity areas that have either run into some hard times or are not doing as well as people would like them to," says Aaron Fischer, Esko's School Superintendent. "We would be upgrading or replacing areas that have been condemned or are falling apart. We would be putting in a track, a football and soccer field, bleachers, lights, a locker room, a concession building, and the things that go along with the track events."

If the operation levy passes, for a family living in a 200,000 home, they will pay $142 more each year.

How much will the athletic referendum cost tax payers?

The superintendent says for a family living in a home of the same value, they would pay $49.91 per year, which is $4.16 per month.

"Both questions have equal importance in the community," says community member Bob Thorton. "The first being the operating levy—important in the classroom, keeping the class sizes lower, making sure there are electives for students that they can use out in the community when they go get jobs."

Last fall, the school board went to voters with the same operating levy of $341 per student and was voted down.

In previous years, a facilities referendum was also voted down. This year, more attention is being given to both topics due to further deterioration of school grounds and damage from the June flood.

Justin Reis, NNC. jreis@northlandsnewscenter.com