Letter about Houston School District 294 Referendum…
To the Editor,
I live in Winona County but my property lies within District 294 for taxation. The district is holding an election on a referendum totaling over $30 million on August 8, 2023. I consider this referendum to be perfidious (deceitful, untrustworthy) due to its timing and execution. There is only one voting location (Hurricane Hub) in Houston, over 10 miles from my residence. The referendum has had little publicity. What other elections are held in an odd year during the summer when many people are vacationing and paying little attention to news? This referendum received Minnesota Dept. of Education approval based on a student population of over 2000, when about 80% of those students attend Virtual Academy, an online school, and do not attend classes on site.
Add to this the fact that K-12 numbers are declining almost everywhere.
In fact, two school board members voted against this referendum.
The tax impact of this referendum will be very significant. In my own case, the district’s estimator indicates an increase of $631 per year, a 56% increase over 2023 district property taxes. And these taxes currently represent 48% of my total property tax. This is no small matter and the public needs to be aware and to vote accordingly. Every voter that I am aware of has indicated opposition to this referendum.
As an educator in postsecondary education for 45 years, I strongly support education, but urge voters to reject both questions on this referendum as I will. If you cannot go to Houston to vote, absentee ballots may be sent to any voter on request. Contact the superintendent’s office if you encounter problems with obtaining the ballot.