Vote "Yes" On School Operating Levy

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If You Support Education, Business, And A Vibrant Community...
Vote ‘Yes” On School Operating Levy


by Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News


When families consider moving to a new community one of their top is checking out the school system.

Are the facilities up-to-date or old? Are the teachers good or indifferent? Is the school board forward thinking or complacent? Are the sports teams successful with coaches working from the bottom up to build excellence or are they fragmented with uninspired youth? Do the people in the community support their schools or are they tight with their tax dollars?

These are all questions they ask. The answers reveal a lot about the character of the school, its leadership, and the community.

We have businesses in the Benson that are struggling to find workers today. We know of two that could use 50 to 60 employees between them right now. They are actively seeking employees, conducting interviews and showing prospective employees around the community.

Benson Public Schools voters can show they support their schools, local businesses and their community next Tuesday by voting in yes on the operating levy.

If you vote for the levy, you will simply be approving a property tax that is already in place – you won’t see an immediate increase. Over the six years the operating levy is in place it will go up slightly each year based on the rate of inflation.

For the farming community, which provides a substantial amount of the tax base for the school district, the levy isn’t going to tax the farmland. This levy only taxes the home, one building (a garage), and one acre of land.

This levy is not about improving the school’s buildings. Operating levies by law have to go toward the day-to-day expenses of providing an education to our children.

Approving the operating levy will provide funds essential to maintaining programs and faculty already in our schools. Because of declining enrollment our school district has already been losing considerable state education funding making it a challenge to maintain programs. For each child lost, the district loses over $7,000 in funding. It doesn’t take many students at that rate to lose a teacher and a program.

Declining enrollment is primarily due to the dwindling rural population, another problem we have to dedicate ourselves to addressing. It is a long-term fight that we have only limited ability to influence. But one part we can play in ensuring our community has a chance to grow and thrive is supporting the quality of our schools with a yes vote next Tuesday.

Vote no and the school board will be looking at making deep cuts into what programs Benson offers the area’s children.

Vote no and you are saying you don’t care about this community’s future or the quality of education its children receive.

Vote no and you vote to send more students to neighboring school districts as their parents look for schools and communities that have a deeper commitment to education. 

Vote no and you hamstring businesses that need employees, but whose prospects choose to go to communities where their schools are a priority.

Vote yes and give our schools the opportunity to not only maintain what is being offered our children, but you open the door for improvement by providing the financial base and flexibility the school board needs.

This past year, Benson schools made the commitment to provide infant and toddler childcare. That commitment was supported by the business community, the City of Benson and Swift County. It met an urgent need that is keeping parents in the community rather than having to search for daycare facilities outside the area. It is giving employers more opportunity to land prospective employees. It is freeing more people to return to their jobs rather than having to stay home.

We need to build on that shared community effort by approving the operating levy so that our schools can maintain the programs they have and look to make more improvements in the coming days.

Don’t sit home next Tuesday if you care about the future of the Benson area community. If the operating levy fails, you are  as responsible for the hardships our schools will face the person who votes no.

Vote yes on the operating levy next Tuesday if believe in supporting a quality education for our children, helping out our businesses that are struggling to find employees, and believe in the future of this community.

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