Vote Yes for school referendum
I encourage everyone to vote YES on Nov. 5 for the White Bear Lake Area Schools’ bond referendum. As a lifetime district resident, a White Bear Lake Area High School alumnus (Go Bears!), a parent of three White Bear graduates, and as a 12-year member of the White Bear Lake City Council, I believe the passage of this bond referendum is critical to our community’s continued success, and to preserve our home values. I respect that this is a difficult decision, but looking at our history, what our communities and schools have achieved together and our responsibility to provide the foundation for a strong future, the district’s recommendation is well justified.
More classrooms are needed throughout the district, from elementary through high school, and infrastructure must be maintained and improved. Combined with the tremendous growth since 2010, district enrollment is on track to be 25% higher than current capacity in the near future. Families are choosing White Bear Lake Area Schools to educate their children. Go Bears!
Attracting new families to a community is competitive. Just as our surrounding and nearby school districts have done in recent years, White Bear Lake Area Schools must continue to improve our aging existing facilities and build new spaces to accommodate growth to stay competitive. As an example, expanding North Campus into a four-year comprehensive high school campus completely on land already owned by the district is a smart decision. Families have been requesting a one-campus high school to accommodate all 9-12 students for decades. Moreover, I truly believe this investment will enhance the student high school experience and create a better sense of community pride among students.
The proposed projects will cost more in the future. Current costs of construction continue to outpace annual inflation. As a City Council member, I know that all the municipalities in our school district have very low per capita taxes compared to other Minnesota cities.
The proposed facilities plan benefits every neighborhood in our school district. By voting yes on Nov. 5, you are investing in the future of our students and our communities and preserving the value of our homes.
White Bear Lake
Vote no on bond referendum
The White Bear School Board rejected a portion of the facility planning committee’s plan. Now it is time for the community to reject the remainder. The best way to do this is by voting no on the upcoming bond referendum. The board did not accept the Central Middle School portion of the plan, the site selected for the new school or the use of eminent domain to expand North Campus.
If eminent domain is not going to be used, why is $6 million included for land acquisition? I also find it amazing that all of the furniture in the district needs to be replaced at the same time, to the tune of $13.6 million.
A new elementary school is proposed for Hugo. Why wasn’t Oneka Elementary built large enough to accommodate the future growth in Hugo? All parents have many options when it comes to educating their children. The public school system is only one option.
Why does Hugo require a separate Early Childhood Center? What will happen to it when the children in Hugo age out of it?
How is the operation of the new school going to be paid for? I have watched the school district operate for over 40 years. The only question in my mind is not if, but rather when, will the next levy referendum be?
A few years ago, the district had a surplus of space. It sold a building to the sheet metal workers. The sheet metal workers are using the building as a school to teach their members their craft. Why the short-sightedness by the school district? Maybe the sheet metal workers will sell the building back to the district for less than the $45 million proposed for a new building.
The sky is not falling as some would have you believe. Commercial construction is currently booming in this area. When construction slows down, the contractors will be forced to “sharpen their pencils” and the community will receive a better value for its money.
Contrary to what the school board seems to think, not every taxpayer in the district has a fully mature money tree growing in their back yard. Rejecting this referendum will result in a new, more realistic and affordable referendum in the future.
Jessup for county commissioner
In determining who to vote for Nov. 5 for Ramsey County Board of Commissioners, my vote goes to Randy Jessup.
Randy Jessup is a small-business owner who knows how to be fiscally responsible. He also has leadership and management experience. As a state representative, Randy has demonstrated independent leadership and a collaborative problem-solving approach in issues affecting the community. He has held a number of leadership positions in business, public service and his church. Educated as a chemical engineer at the University of Minnesota, his impact as to how to deal with environmental issues in the district will be beneficial for the community.
Please join me and vote for Randy Jessup for Ramsey County Commissioner on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Frethem for Ramsey County commissioner
We had the opportunity recently to meet Nicole Frethem, who is running for Ramsey County Commissioner in District 1. We were both very impressed by her enthusiasm and in-depth knowledge of county operations and governance. Listening to her speak refreshed our confidence that there truly are individuals pursuing elected office for what we consider the right reasons: that is, a desire to serve, a commitment to listen and an approach based in genuine humility. Please join us in supporting Nicole on Nov. 5.
Chris and Dawn Hiniker
White Bear Township
Clarification on bond literature
By now all voters in the White Bear Lake school district have received the mailing of “Our Kids Our Communities Our Future Committee.” There are a couple of items in need of correction.
First, in the middle column of the front page:
“In 1972 the split campus high school model (North Campus/South Campus) began in our district.”
That is not true. There were two high schools in White Bear Lake, White Bear Lake High School on the north side and Mariner High School on the south. These were separate schools; Mariner even went to the State High School Hockey Tournament. In the 1983-1984 school year, White Bear North Campus and South Campus emerged. In fact, on the same front page, White Bear Lake City Council member Dan Jones promoted the coming levy and identified himself as a Mariner High School alumnus. The merger occurred, in part, for cost saving. I cannot address whether the alleged north/south rivalry, new building vs. old building, was part of the debate. I do recall comments about this merger such as needing only one set of teachers for the high school level instead of having two staffs, e.g., one chemistry teacher instead of two. It was suggested that advanced students at the north campus would be bused for classes to the south campus during the day.
Second, “ISD 624 has not had a major secondary school project since 1972.” Depending on the definitions of “major” and “secondary” (the latter can include middle school grades), Sunrise Park (previously Junior High School) Middle School has undergone some renovation. Prior to its reopening as a middle school after years as the district center/ecfe/senior center, circa 1993-1994, new windows were installed and other renovations made and desks and lockers discarded in dumpsters. The following year, after these renovations were completed, part of the east side of the building was torn out to add a new wing to the school.
White Bear Lake
Editor’s note: The mailing mentioned in this letter was not sent out by White Bear Lake Area Schools.
City needs more roundabouts
It is time for White Bear Lake to phase out four-way stops and move to roundabouts. Such stops are a relic from a time with low traffic volumes and minimal information about effective urban planning. Ultimately, they are archaic, inefficient and dangerous. Surely every driver — certainly, during busy periods — is fed up with the bizarre, uncomfortable and often stressful ritual that four-way stops demand. Roundabouts are easier to navigate, far more efficient in keeping cars moving, and much safer. The transition could be done with modest expense: roundabouts, in most cases, require only a small concrete circle in the center of the road and some additional road markings.