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Patch Facebook Fans Get Heated Over Referendum 'Failure'

After Patch broke the news on the referendum being declined Tuesday night, readers and Facebookers write their feelings.

Richfield Patch Facebook followers opened up about their thoughts on the social media site shortly after the results were in Tuesday night—.

"What a shame for the kids of Richfield Pubic Schools," Dan Jegtvig wrote.

"Very disappointed in my community tonight," Carrie Renneke Palmersheim wrote.

"So disappointing," Kirsten Shaheen wrote.

Lisa Schwab even mentioned she may think about going to a new district:

"[This] might be the end of Richfield public schools for this family," she wrote. "Isn't worth it to have my childrens education suffer."

While Jason Gabbert said he "didn't have a dog in the fight" Tuesday night, he felt the levy didn't pass simply because times are tough.

"It didn't fail because people don't care about the kids, it failed because times are tight for a lot of people and the ones who don't have kids in the system just didn't feel like surrendering that money."

However, Gabbert's reasoning didn't sit well with others involved in the discussion:

"We all know why it failed," Jegtvig responded. "The point is that it is the kids who lose."

"The district has been fiscally responsible making cuts everywhere they could," Nancy Anton Knutson wrote. "Now it will be more teachers and programs."

As of midnight, the discussion boasted nearly 30 comments and counting. Join the Facebook discussion here.

Robert November 09, 2011 at 01:42 PM
Yeah, was just thinking those Richfield Kindergarten's with 26 kids a class, really should be able to get by with over 30. Please. I'm embarrassed by my community with these results.
Gordon Hanson November 09, 2011 at 02:33 PM
The rejection of the referendum last night was a significant disappointment for those of us who take an active role in working toward a stronger, more vibrant Richfield. Lisa Schwab's comment about considering leaving the Richfield district illustrates the point perfectly. Imagine yourself as part of a young family looking for your first home. You find a home that you just love. But you ask about the school system. The answer you receive is unsettling. The word is that classes are way overcrowded. Teaching staffs have been cut. And the community lacks a commitment to the schools. Guess what, if you're in that young family? It doesn't matter how much you love that house; you'll drop all plans to buy it. You'll move to a neighboring city where schools are supported. This is one of the major ways the winners and losers are sorted out in thriving and declining communities. Unfortunately last night was not a good night. Let's hope for more promising days ahead.
Caitlin Burgess (Editor) November 09, 2011 at 05:06 PM
Thanks for your comments Gordon and Robert. What do you think will happen now? FYI - 40 comments and counting of the Facebook feed.
Quinton November 09, 2011 at 05:24 PM
As a native South African I am puzzled to see that the Richfield MN has referendum issues. Shouldn't everyone be in favor of children's education in this country?
Kevin Maleck November 09, 2011 at 06:07 PM
We will face ugly cuts for next year and we will see a referendum on the ballot next fall. That referendum will be either to continue with our current level - far below our neighbors or to increase and still be below our neighbors. Gordon's message is an important one. The link between home values and the image of our school system and our community's support for our schools needs to be put out there. People spruce up the appearance of their house before selling, they should consider sprucing up our schools. Going above and beyond just what will get the schools by will be rewarded by higher home values. We just cost ourselves thousands to save $10 a month. Anyone wishing to help spread the message that quality schools help make for a quality community may email Richfield Citizens for a Quality Community at richfieldcqc@gmail.com
Gordon Hanson November 09, 2011 at 07:36 PM
Caitlin, the truth is that the schools face a very difficult situation both in terms of mission and public relations. For the schools' mission of educating youth, the easy budget cuts had already been made. What comes next are more severe measures that will adversely impact the mission of educating. During the campaign, it always frustrated me when people who were opposed to the referendum would cite some mythical wasteful programs, but they could not specify what that waste was. They just had a "gut feeling" that it must exist. That kind of talk is irresponsible. Now with regard to public relations, the schools are also in a tricky position. On the one hand the schools need to communicate the negative impacts that this "no vote" will have on the kids who are our neighbors. "No voters" need to realize their vote was shortsighted. But on a second hand, the schools still need to "sell themselves" to prospective families as a school of choice in the competitive marketplace of private, charter and neighboring public school systems. It's really tricky to sell yourself if you're also forced to share a lot of bad news. The only thing now is for enlightened citizens to work together for a better outcome next time.
Robert November 09, 2011 at 08:04 PM
You'd think so Quinton. You and I sure would provide whatever it takes for Richfield's childern's education. Some people would rather have $129 in their pockets than an educated community and desirable place to live. Unfortunately, those people are our neighbors.
Eric November 09, 2011 at 09:44 PM
My wife and I are RIchfield residents who are currently school shopping. When we started we were almost sure we would wind up outside of Richfield. However, after several school tours in Minneapolis, Bloomington and Edina the Richfield S.T.E.M. school is currently at the top of our list. This is both because of the school itself (and the principal) and the concept, which seems a natural fit for our child. Our opinion hasn't changed because of the failure of the referendum to pass but the failure has muddied the waters. It's a negative factor we now have to weigh with all the other (often overwhelming) aspects to consider. I'm not so quick to engage in hyperbole over the reasons for the failure. $130 a year means nothing to me but if you haven't experienced grinding poverty you have no idea how much money that is when you have none at all. I am not going to judge others in these tough economic times for having different perceptions and priorities, sometimes based on pure survival. I will say I've heard some very selfish and wrong-headed statements from others who have based their 'no' vote on something other than economic necessity. It's these people who are engaged in a race to the bottom- and will cast about for others to blame once we get there- who must be countered through thought, word and deed before our entire country slides into a mediocrity that can't be easily reversed.
Kevin Maleck November 09, 2011 at 10:13 PM
Nicely said Eric. I agree that $120 or $130 a year does mean a lot to some familes but if we're not careful, just the perception that our classes are crowded or that our schools don't have enough money or support can affect people's decisions. In your case, you already live here and there is a vested interest in being a part of the community's schools. Being a part of the schools where they live makes families feel more a part of the community. The kids go to school with the neighbor kids and all get to know each other. Imagine a family looking to purchase a home. It would be a shame to cost ourselves in home value to save $10 a month. No one likes paying taxes but in this case, for a homeowner, it is a bit of an investment in addition to being the right thing to do. We just need to ensure the district spends it wisely. There are plenty of forums for that. STEM is a great school with great teachers and Joey Page is an outstanding principal. Stick with it. We (Richfield CQC, our family and friends) will work to help educate voters about school budgets and dispel some misunderstanding so voters can make more informed choices. They may still vote no, but it won't be because they are working from incorrect information. I have lived in Richfield for 40 some years and graduated from Richfield Schools. I believe the community cares.
j bender November 09, 2011 at 10:56 PM
I know the schools have a lot to do with property values, but our property taxes are already higher than most. We're higher than Bloomington,Edina, Eden Prairie, Mtka, St Louis Park,Plymouth,Brooklyn Park, New Hope and Maple Grove...I don't have anything against the kids and certainly want to help them to read, but as a citizen I'm not convinced we're spending the ever increasing school revenues as cautiously as a homeowner has to manage their budget. I'm also dissappointed in Superintendent Bob Slotterback's prediction high school class sizes will be in the 40's without the levy. So that means by not increasing our average property taxes by a mere $120/year high school class sizes will go from under 30 to over 40. There may be a worst case scenario where this might happen, but it sounds more like scare tactics to me than reality.
Kevin Maleck November 09, 2011 at 11:34 PM
I get that taxes are a bummer. Heck, I'm a Republican - I'm supposed to hate taxes, and I DO. You are also right that too often, our tax money is spent poorly. It can be infuriating. That is particularly the case when it's fed or state money. There is less accountability. If Richfield citizens are giving the schools money, we are more likely to ensure it is being spent wisely. I prefer to pay my hard earned money locally where I can see it in action. I see first (and second) hand many of the gory details of school finance. My wife Christine has been on the district's Fiscal Planning Advisory Committee (FPAC) for four years. We discuss school finances and how they spend money regularly. I see the budgets in all their glorious detail. I am on the Technology Advisory Committee and that is a completely separate and separately funded (and miniscule, I might add) budget. We get down to details as small as individual software licensing and computer programs. It is an exercise in wishing you had more money, I assure you. The Superintendant's Parent Advisory Committee is another great source of information. The district is running a very tight ship. Most board meetings are open and I bet you can get a seat at the FPAC meetings if you call the district office. They would be very informative. I haven't checked the full calculations for taxes in those cities but it would be nice to have a higher proportion of high dollar homes to help stufff the coffers like they do.
Andy November 10, 2011 at 02:47 AM
Maybe if the teachers and administrators would take a pay freeze or even a pay cut like everyone else in this country has had to, then maybe some of there coworkers could keep their jobs. Something to consider.
Doug Olson November 10, 2011 at 03:35 AM
I too am very disappointed in last night's no vote for the referendum. Unfortunately, I think too many people are only worrying about themselves and not the future of our kids, our community, and our country. We need to give our kids the tools to be able to compete in a global marketplace. I was very fortunate to be in public school at a time when you had every opportunity for any activity, for any class, for any sport. Now as we continue to cut our childrens artistic and cultural opportunities, we can add fewer teachers to educate our children to the short sightedness of the voters. I was also disappointed to see at 7:30 last night, at my local precinct, that only 280 people had bothered to show up and vote. If people wanted the referendum to pass and didn't vote, they are also part of the problem.

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