Editorial: Voters say 'YES!' to combined district
"From everyone that I've talked to that has been out knocking on doors with us, we've gotten a very positive response from the community, and we're all happy to hear that." -- Brenda Stanton, Vote Yes for Consolidation Committee, as quoted in Friday's Daily Globe.
Stanton's words certainly proved to be prescient Tuesday night, as Round Lake and Brewster voters overwhelmingly approved consolidation of the Round Lake and Brewster school districts. In fact, "overwhelmingly" just might be an understatement. When combining the Round Lake and Brewster numbers, a total of 535 yes votes were cast compared to just 27 no votes.
In commenting on the consolidation vote, we think it's important to remind folks of why it was necessary. Projected enrollment declines in both districts would have likely led to difficult fiscal scenarios in the event Round Lake and Brewster opted not to begin the consolidation process. If those financial conditions developed, the Minnesota Department of Education would prohibit further consolidation efforts at that point -- leading to the possible dissolving of each district.
As it is, the high school in Round Lake has closed. With consolidation, though, a combined Round Lake-Brewster district could operate a pre-kindergarten through fifth grade elementary school and a sixth through eighth grade middle school in the current elementary facility in Brewster.
We're pleased that Tuesday's vote enables this plan to continue moving forward. Schools are an extremely important element of every community they're in, whether it's a small city such as Brewster (population 473, according the 2010 census) or Worthington (pop. 12,764). This is true from the perspectives of both tax revenue and community identity.
While it certainly is possible the former's schools could be part of the latter's district in years to come, that time -- quite clearly -- isn't now.