NEW ULM - Current technology and social media options are proving to be a useful tool for a group of community volunteers campaigning for passage of a new, $575-per-student, per- year, local school levy Nov. 6.
The levy would raise $1.28 million for the school system for a period of 10 years.
Two videos, posted on a special web site, isd88voteyes.wordpress.com, seek to convince voters to support the levy.
One video features District 88 students appealing to the community, each with a brief message. The video includes local, private school students.
The other video features community, business and school leaders making their own arguments in favor of the levy. A wide community cross-section is represented: the mayor of New Ulm, business owners, economic development officials, a senior citizen, a retired Catholic school superintendent, a professor from Martin Luther College, a United Way official and a physician.
This video lists a few facts behind the district's request for the levy. The video says that state school funding has not kept up with inflation. It says the district has cut, on average, $860,000 from its budget each year over the last nine years; or a total of about $7 million worth of programs.
Class sizes are at unacceptable levels, states the video. They have reached 25-26 children in kindergarten (recommended size is 17-20); 28-29 in third grade (recommended 22-24) and 29-30 in sixth grade (recommended 23-26). Some class sections in English and social studies at the high school have as many as 37 students.
The video further lists some potential effects of a "no" vote. Declining schools affect a community's attractiveness to businesses and families, negatively impacting property values, says the message. Children end up less prepared for post-high education or careers.
Both videos were filmed by members of the volunteer committee, using private resources. No school funds were used in the filming, say members of the committee.
Links to the videos are being sent to various community members, and their audience appears to be expanding.
The web site, itself developed by volunteers, also lists additional related information: answers to frequently asked questions about the levy, voting information, tax calculators to help people how their own taxes would change, etc. People can leave tweets and comments.
Beside tech tools, the committee is using old-fashioned campaign tools, such as door-to-door canvassing to get out the vote, fliers and lawn signs.
The student video can be viewed at isd88voteyes.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/isd-88-students-are-asking-for-your-vote/.
The community leader video can be viewed at isd88voteyes.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/community-members-speak/.