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Patriot Perspective: Winter weather decisions explained

Our excellent team of bus drivers will always put a safe bus ride ahead of an on-time bus ride. Parents always have the right to keep children at home if they feel it is not safe to send them out. As a general rule, we will run school if we can get buses started and transport students safely. PineandLakes.com Illustration

Winter is officially here and it's time to remind everyone about our district procedures for weather-related decisions.

When weather is questionable, we will be in contact with our transportation department, public safety officials and neighboring districts. A member of our transportation team and/or I often drive some of the known difficult areas to confirm conditions on the ground.

Our goal for morning situations is to make a decision by 5:30 a.m., as we have employees rolling into work by that time. We will communicate the message to families and staff first through our automated phone calling system, and then through our district website and the following radio/TV stations: 93.3, 94.3, 102.7, 103.5, 106.7, 107.5, WCCO, KARE-11, KMSP (Fox 9), KSTP, WDIO/WIRT TV and www.cancellations.com.

Please check these resources before calling the school offices as most staff will not be at work to answer the phones!

The decision to delay or close school is based on the safety of our students while also recognizing that any change of routine puts a significant strain on many families. Our excellent team of bus drivers will always put a safe bus ride ahead of an on-time bus ride. Parents always have the right to keep children at home if they feel it is not safe to send them out.

As a general rule, we will run school if we can get buses started and transport students safely.

Legislative advocacy

Did you know Pequot Lakes is in the bottom 2-4 percent of all districts in Minnesota in revenue per student to operate the district? This means that 96-98 percent of the districts in Minnesota receive and spend more per student than we do.

Our district is currently receiving over $1,500 less per student than in 2003 in basic education revenue when adjusted for inflation. Most districts have filled this funding gap through voter-approved operating levies of up to $4,400 per student; yet in districts like Pequot Lakes with a high percentage of seasonal properties, the impact on local residents is far greater than in other districts with a larger commercial and residential tax base.

Relying on local property taxes to fund schools creates huge disparities in the resources districts have to educate students and fails to provide a "general and uniform system of education" as required by the Minnesota Constitution. Our school board has exhausted its legal authority to increase district revenues so it is now up to the public to approve a local levy increase or up to the Minnesota Legislature to create a more equitable funding system.

Please join me in advocating for our Patriot students by asking the Legislature to increase the basic education formula to 2003 levels and to reduce the state's dependence on local property taxes to fund basic education.

Our students certainly deserve better than the bottom 2 percent.

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