Del Val: Vote Yes for Fargo Public Schools on March 7

As you no doubt know, one of the “rules” of being a nonprofit 501(c) 3, of which The Arts Partnership is one, is that we can’t take political stances. We work hard to remain neutral because we recognize there are great arts supporters on both sides of the political aisles at the local, state and national levels.

But sometimes an issue arises that is largely nonpartisan, and it behooves leaders in the community to step up and make a statement about it. The mill levy vote on March 7 is just such an issue.

Let me be clear: I don’t have any children in the Fargo Public School district anymore. My son is nearly done with college, so I don’t have a personal stake in this game.

But I have a personal stake in this game, and I would argue we all do, because our K-12 schools are the very foundation of what makes up the success of a community. Our future doctors, lawyers, teachers, athletes, entrepreneurs, artists, engineers, information technology specialists and the hundreds of jobs that haven’t even been created are waiting to be filled by today’s elementary and high school students.

I’m the product of two generations of teachers, and I taught at the college level for a number of years, so I have never understood people’s anger over how much money school districts receive from taxes.

Don’t we want our children to be receiving the very best education they can be? Don’t you want your future doctor, for example, to be as well versed in creative problem-solving as possible when she or he is trying to diagnose your symptoms?

I do.

And I know that public schools are where a lot of those skills are taught, over and over and over again.

So I have never understood people’s resistance to paying for it.

And I certainly don’t understand this particular issue because no one’s taxes are going to go up one cent based on this vote.

If your taxes are going up, it’s because the value of your house is increasing. The school district is not receiving additional tax dollars; rather, they are receiving the dollars they rightfully deserve based on the true value of our homes.

In other words, you’ll pay more in taxes if your value has gone up, but the school district won’t receive their increased portion.

We’re a vibrant, growing community with infill and expansion happening simultaneously. This is not the Fargo of the past; rather, this is a dynamic city working hard to be a place where transplants come and start new businesses, where college graduates want to come or stay for work and leisure, where the region looks to us as a leader in health care, education, technology and the arts.

That can’t happen if we don’t support our public schools to the best of our ability.

A yes vote on March 7 means that you recognize that your taxes are not going to be affected by the school district portion of your bill.

A yes vote on March 7 means that you value the holistic education that the Fargo Public School District has worked hard to implement. It means that you understand that the first thing to go will be staff and most likely arts programming.

A no vote on March 7 will not lower your taxes. It will simply mean that tomorrow’s leaders will have grown up in a district where really tough decisions had to be made every single day about class sizes, programming, staff, services and more.

I hope you will join me in voting yes on March 7.

Actually, first and foremost, I hope you will join me in voting. That’s a civic duty and privilege, and too few people take advantage of it.

Vote yes for our students; vote yes for our future. Fargo is depending on you.

This article is part of a content partnership with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and originally appeared in the Monday, February 20 2016, issue of the paper.

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