A special Mainstreet Radio call-in program from KSJR, in central Minnesota. Program highlights the concern over problems of rural school districts. Rachel Reabe interviews Irvin Bjerga of Motley, Minnesota; Kathy Berger of Mountain Iron-Buhl School District; and Congressman Glen Anderson of Bellingham, Minnesota.
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Today Minnesota has 435 school districts, but some of those districts are in trouble declining enrollments and a corresponding drop-in State dollars are making it hard for some small girl districts to stay in business. Good afternoon. I'm Rachel reabe welcome to a special call in program about the problems facing Small World School Districts and some of the solutions. This program is a production of NPR's Main Street radio team. We're coming to you now live via satellite from the studios of ksj are in Central Minnesota is calling program is being hurt on all the Minnesota public radio network stations in Greater Minnesota and in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Decorah, Iowa and Houghton, Michigan. Let me begin today by introducing you two are Studio guests in the studio with me. Today is Irvin by origa. He is a feed store owner in Motley, Minnesota town of 500 people in central, Minnesota.He started a concerned citizens group in Motley over concerned that the motley high school would be lost in a pairing arrangement with the nearby town of Staples. He is now a candidate for next month's School Board election. Kathy Berger lives on Minnesota Iron Range. She has spent seven years as a school board member on the Mountain iron-buhl School District. They were actually the last District in the state of Minnesota to consolidate that happened in 1984. So she was on the Buell School Board before the consolidation through the consolidation. And now in the new Consolidated Mountain iron-buhl district and Glenn Anderson from Bellingham is here Town extreme West Central Minnesota. He has spent is 16 years in the Minnesota Legislature. Most recently as chairman of the Appropriations Committee. He recently sponsored legislation to provide money for to pilot projects that would reorganize some rural districts into area schools, and we'll talk about that today. Let's begin by having each one of our gas some talk a little bit about their particular situation Kathy. Let's start with U Mountain iron-buhl the reason to consolidate in the first place. Three years ago are school districts are both realizing declining enrollment in declining revenues, and we were facing a very large deficits in excess of $400,000. Strix. We got together to try to save program and run a more efficient school district, and we began that process by sharing our sports teams and I believe 1983 and we Consolidated 1985 When consolidation talks began with mountain iron-buhl there was a combined enrollment of 1500 students and people hope that through the consolidation that would be the answer to the problem today. There are 1100 students in mountain, iron-buhl and enrollments continue to drop as that put you in a more difficult position. Yes, definitely as long as the school district Start Finance Donna per-pupil basis declining enrollments make a very large difference in your revenues. We have lost approximately one and a half million dollars into climbing enrollments from the day we Consolidated until today. So you're District at Consolidated District, but still facing problems. They voted this week to close one of the schools in your District. Yes. We did Monday night. Ruben Barragan you are from the town of Motley have lived there for many years. You got involved in the discussion over rural schools when and why I was about 11 months ago. That was the first that we heard of a proposed pairing between Molly and Staples and at that point. We had a Merchant's made in just a couple days after that and we talked about it and we we thought that was pretty large decision for a school district to make and and we just wanted to see that would be studied very very good in that input would be in from the citizens and from the community and this is probably been our it's probably what is made us fight harder to save our school is is probably being being put out of input into that decision. We were we were just blocked about everything we try to do we just were refused any end. Put into a new just made it that much harder by that much harder to keep our school. And for those of you who've listen to our series of shows this week on Rural school districts, you know that apparent legislation started in 1978 and under the provisions of that law school districts could retain their independence retain their own School boards and yet come together to share part or all of their programs in the planet Motley Staples is to have all the high school students in both District go to Staples at Town 7 miles to the west of you have all the middle school students in Motley and have each Community keep their Elementary School is that in may we heard about the pairing and last October was already was already finalized, you know, that is in a very long time to to make such a big move. Are phone number this afternoon is toll-free. Please call us and join our discussion or number is one 800-525-4999. So if you have a question or a comment about rural school districts the problems or the solution call us one 800-525-4999. Mr. Anderson, you are from a rural community tells a little bit about your work with rural school districts in the legislation that you have sponsored. All I watched over a. Of years not only the school districts in my area but talking to colleagues in the legislature. It seems to be about the same throughout the state. Where was the declining economy the smaller families of today? And declining enrollment and many of our ruler is that what we're seeing is is cuts and curriculum in many cases and at the same time correctly cut in many cases Levi referendums are passed. To increase to increase the taxes to keep that school going and that's what I've been observing in my part of the state. What precipitated I guess action on my part was about a year-and-a-half ago when we lost one of our high schools due to a fire. High School in Madison, Minnesota was totally destroyed by fire. Madison School Board came to me and asked if I could get some assistance out of the legislature to help them rebuild the school. I said while a daughter that I could for for that specific School alone. But why don't we tackle the whole problem in the area and see if we can get something going that will broaden the curriculum not only for the Madison School District, but for the other area schools as well and what's happened out of that was was a bill. Was built you might say and then ultimately passed a year ago that calls for any three or more school districts in the state of was a pilot project that had a enrollment of a thousand or less K through 12 if they would merge their upper classes and there were three options grades 10 through 12 9 through 12 or 7 through 12. Higher One superintendent for the for the three or more there could have been as many as six or seven. And prove to the State Department of Education that they could broaden their curriculum and provide a better education that the state would participate and helping either remodel of current facilities are building a new facility for that new combined upper class school district that are looking to getting involved in an area school that have expressed their willingness to be involved and to build a new school at the place where there currently is nothing just an open field what has happened. In fact, there are two pilot projects. Now we're Grant applications have been made. The one is in the west central part of the stage. The poor communities are Milan Marriott, and I saw Madison and Appleton. The other pilot project will be Gaylord Arlington and Green Isle which is about 50 miles west and a little south of the Twin City area the four communities in my part of the state are excited about it. They have made application. The grants will be awarded July 1st after which both of these combined groups will have to float a bond referendum then for the local share. The new facilities are expected to cost somewhere in the area of a about 11.5 million dollars. Each of these combined districts will be given on a gram of 8 million dollars or up to 75% of the total project by the state of Minnesota. Are phone number this afternoon is one 800-525-4999? Did you go to Bellingham High School in 1956 260 in the middle of this area where this area school is proposed to being built on The Fringe of of the area. It would be further to the new school from Bellingham. The furthest distance would be from Marietta thereabouts half or half a mile or a mile from the South Dakota border. They would be the farthest but they are also the smallest and their plant is has probably the oldest and needs the most work on the physical fact has chosen not to go along with it. Why not? well any any town in, Minnesota? Has intense local pride and that's that's certainly a good trait the school and most small towns is the biggest industry in town. We don't have factories. It's totally agricultural area everything depends on agriculture. And that is the only business and tell him outside of those directly related to agriculture the fertilizer plants in elevators Etc that that provides jobs and When parents and grandparents of how the children in school today graduated from the same school and Seether. Nobody wants to give that's cool up and I really can't blame them. I'd much I'd much prefer to be able to bring an industry or to Endeavor small town in Minnesota and to up the population so much provide jobs and keep every small school going that doesn't seem to be happy. This is the best option you think I may be old-fashioned but I I believe schools are for education and it disturbs me to see Kirkland being cut out and local taxes local property taxes going up at the same time what's colleges and universities imposing more stringent entrance requirements. Very shortly into the future. I think that we have to plan for that in order to give our young people and had a good chance at life by 4999. Please call us on that number and join our discussion today. Mr. Beer Guy, you just heard. Mr. Anderson say that he has an old-fashioned notion that schools are for education and yet you have been a very strong advocate of keep the school in the town even the motley school has a population of 469 students K through 12, you say it's not all that important that they offer what you call the frill classes. What's your point of view on that? I'm really a strong supporter in the basics in education. I feel that in pairing app where you have more classes. I'm certainly agree that that there are 10% of those students the top students the better students. They are going to benefit us more classes. You can't take that away. But I also am a strong believer that for the majority of the kids that a small school environment is much better for him for a lot of different reasons. And I think you can do well on on leadership positions more responsibility feeling better in the school feeling have my having a feeling that the community is little closer to you and likewise. I think the kids have a better attitude or under less stress. I think they're a lot of benefits of getting a small school and in the small time to forsake, perhaps the extra classes for that 10% of students. You think that's a good trade-off to keep that school home and to have the children in their community. Iran in the majority that we have got to do things for the majority of the people and and that the majority of people should make the decision as far as what does happen. I first color on the line is from Nisswa, Minnesota. Go ahead with your question. Please have fun on a bus have a bigger school. I mean a bigger isn't necessarily better at these students are going to be on the bus and now we're going on an hour coming you might as well just put the teachers on the bus and that can just be a portable classroom in the true sense of the word. What do you think is the maximum distance you would like to see students bust? I made that comment when we were talking about an area high school from Aurora White Lake Silver to the MIB district. There are students presently being bused in Aurora for an hour. And that would be another half hour ride. I don't think 30 to 45 minutes is probably the maximum I would care for a child on a bus especially Elementary grades. This is an awfully big state. I took a ride last week and there are children in remote areas and we cannot expect all school districts good to consolidate because of the great distances between the schools. You can measure between schools and that doesn't necessarily mean that the same distance where the students left and I really do believe that over a half an hour is at XS. 45 minutes has way too much. Mr. Anderson. How do you feel about that? Do you have some Outer Perimeter saying if they can get to school in this amount of time it'll work but if it's on this side of this certain arbitrary number, it's not going to be such a good idea these area schools. How far should kids come help? How long should I be on the bus? The one the school is planned in West Central Minnesota would have I suppose the greatest distance for for a youngster to come to it. About 30 miles the vast majority however would be much closer the way it would work is that the day lementary schools would be retained and each individual community and grades seven through twelve where they need them or intensive courses in the broader curriculum and preparation for college or are the job market or whatever then would go together into the new facility. I don't believe there would be a much more time spent on the bus in the currently is the buses are currently pretty much circulating circling some of the smaller towns and I believe the bus routes would be revamped and and be made more into a all where they would go like to the hub of the wheel and I would be coming 30 miles to this proposed area school. We could assume that they would be on the bus certainly longer than 30 minutes. Perhaps would be about nine miles from the new school. That would be coming. The farthest could possibly be on the bus for as long as an hour. Perhaps is that acceptable? Well, I spent many years going 5 miles to my school and I spent over an hour every morning. And so I don't know if it's whole lot of change. Never call her now from Lynd, Minnesota to go ahead with your question, please. Allergic time for high school and we feel that our kids are getting a good basic start here in a smaller classroom sizes and offer them an extra curriculum at the high school level is very proud of the send a group of youngsters to the office Regional science fair by our students. Do you think your students can match up academically with students anywhere in Minnesota to maintain where do your students grades 9 10 11 and 12 go to school. How far do they go? Ideal situation we had here there has been some discussion. I've certainly heard it from mr. Beer ago when there was a discussion about moving the high school students from his town to Staples saying that a town is its high school and if you don't have the high school you're taking the very heart out of the community. Would you respond to that hard to hang on to the school? Because we paid for it and I think that's when they made the decision to pair with Marsha for the high school. That's one thing they were looking at that says a small school NFL Are phone numbers one 800-525-4999 calls and join our discussion this afternoon. Mr. Beer go you made the comment about the community being the high school and leave until Motley actually under this proposed pairing would pick up 200 additional students that you don't have now. So there would be 200 more students actually in the motley schools as a result of the staples-motley pairing and yet you've said still if the high school isn't here we are the big losers. I feel that I feel like with the activities are we having in school now are there so many of them are built around the activities in the high school and I think the people of the people in turn our will have to go to Staples for so many of our activities that our children are involved with and I think it takes and this is where this is where people get together and where the young meet the old and and so forth and friends who probably don't even a neighbors who don't even see each other the rest of your get-together at these events and I think we take we take that away a little bit by going to the larger school lets I think we have a lot a lot better atmosphere for those kind of relations in the small school and your Town's Motley and Staples are 7 miles apart is his Burger. You're from Buhl you are 9 miles from Mountain Iron those two schools Consolidated and your high-school students all Intermountain ironrite that are middle school students remained in Beulah Land There were there's ways to overcome the school spirit intends Town Spirit who played games at the Buhl High School, which was the high school now the Middle School it was a larger facility. It had lights Etc. And we played other sports at the high school baseball. Listen to be all and softball listen to all of the basketball was played Mountain iron and the fans all got together. That was not a problem. We've all worked very strong and I believe that our community and our school probably has more school spirit than any other districts are up there. There aren't you don't you just compromise and you can overcome those things? Our phone number one 800-525-4999 our next caller on the line from Motley. Go ahead with your comment or question. Please mention it over 450 people called in dance schools of the state department and he told me that the length of time since the decision. In the coming Falls and appearing will take place with ethics. Daniel has decided to so you are from the town of Motley. Do you feel that your students will be better off by going to Staples is the pairing Arrangement the best opportunity for your kids in Motley? Staples classes here What sorts of classes mam? So you feel strongly that that the pairing with staples is the best way to go. But there was nothing we had some top. What are mr. Bean burgers arguments has been that the school board sort of Samara Lee made the decision and they voted without turning it over to the people without taking this question to a referendum. Do you feel like you should have had a vote in this matter? Like I said before 450 people called that we support you in this so I don't feel that the people of the community what I thought maybe somewhere I mean at the last election. Thank you for your question today. Mr. Beer get you told me that you think 60 to 70% of the people in your community are against the pairing. What do you base that on? I can only base set on on a few things initially. We took a survey of the community. We surveyed approximately 500 homes probably close to a thousand and that survey came back at 42% Excuse me. Yes 42% against the pairing and 15% for the school board held their their required informational meeting during the summer. They took a vote after the meeting and that came out 151 to 67 against the pairing. We took another survey of our high school students and parents who would go to Staples next year. We took that last October that was a hundred and ninety-two around 60. I believe they Staples school was promised by the motley school board that we would send the figures have been from 40 to 50 to 70 of elementary kids to Staples and yet when the time came for those kids for those parents to let those kids go we only came up with about anywhere from ten to fourteen. I just don't believe with all those indicators that that it is a majority of the people that are for the pairing of and and I just am a firm believer that the people should have had a right to vote on it. It says I guess what's wrong with people voting on something so important and again is state law provides that consolidation people have to vote on appearing and sharing Arrangement does not our next caller on the line from International Falls. Your question, please. Go ahead with your question. Hello. Yeah, it's going okay, I'm from Hills, Minnesota. All right, I think that they would not be able to participate or they would just kind of get lost in the shuffle telecommunications would be would make almost. Any classes available to students without the additional cost of physical plant and could be done in an existing. I'll hang up and listen. Thank you for your questions. Let's take that first one. Mr. Anderson getting lost in the shuffle. Is that going to happen? Mr. Beer gets talked about when students are kept in a small setting that they have an opportunity to exhibit leadership and do practice leadership and develop some of those good life skills when they are put in with a larger and larger group of students are tuna tees. Well, first of all, I don't think we've decided to do you find what what is small? And I guess that varies a lot depending on what part of the state you're from for instance. My school has a typical class of 13 to probably eighteen students graduate in a typical year. I would consider that small if if you're talking in the 52 6284 class in all buy buy Metro standards, that's extremely small because they have six and seven eight hundred per individual class and your area school from your area would have about how many combined schools and red 7 through 12 would have about 770 students per class. That's where the number of our schools were as recent does 10 to 15 years ago. So that would be nothing new being a part of a class of a hundred and I don't think being one of a graduating class of 120 students is where you're going to get lost in the shuffle. You feel about that. Motley has about 50 students are graduating class. Once they join with staples. I think they're projecting next year's graduating class will be somewhere around 180 is that your idea of getting lost in the shuffle? Is that too big of a class? I think we're probably closer like this year around 30 and we'll probably will probably going into the into the high 30s and 40s. The next few years are not high for his butt in the 40s next two years and I think when you go then from that stage up to a hundred and eighty you just will not get as many activity opportunities for each student that they have in these classes of 30 and in the schools that have 30 and 40 students. They just cannot economically and financially Provide enough activities to wear these children will have a chance for those leadership and responsibility positions afternoon your question, please from the two communities and I think we should I don't think I don't think this has been a lot of ideas. Feelings about it and aren't being heard right now. What is your opinion on the proposed pairing between the Staples in Motley districts? For what reason had a meeting that hasn't been enough time to go through all the issues and it's just it's interesting that most of the Uproar in Motley Staples has come from Motley people. Very little has been heard from the Staples people. Mr. Beer. All right. So people in Staples you think are upset about the plan is what? Thank you for your question today did not address the Germans question from Hill pertaining to a telecommunication can be expanded you don't necessarily have to merge high schools together. You you can pair and share that started in 78. Telemedia is coming in. There was substantial funding last session for telling media throughout the state. That's better than not offering the course. It's not as good of course as having the teacher in the class. But even with these merge district telemedia will continue because off into the future tell him maybe I will be connected between the high schools The Vocational Technical system community colleges State University and very likely even the University of Minnesota. So I think telling media is is also a thing that's coming the thing that I Some of the benefits of of merging two or three or four high schools that I can see you in some parts of the state are that according to studies done by Department of Education? They're up to be a minimum of 80 students per grade to offer a broad curriculum. You can save a lot of a Administration costs. I would say by doing that. It doesn't make much sense to me to have a school superintendent dinner and a school district of about 200 students K through 12 earning $45,000 a year one probably that same individual couldn't just as efficiently manage 3 it's too tough for a fur close to the same wages that money I think could be better spent on teacher salaries on a couple of courses that are currently not offered. 80 or more is what the department says is necessary that gives the economy of scale and another advantage of that for instance to the chemistry teacher the physics teacher the math teacher will be teaching more. And their area of specialty instead of perhaps one course in chemistry or physics or or math and of course in social studies and and a couple of courses in Fayette that is not fair to the teacher and for sure. It's not fair to the students. It's important to note at this point that school districts. Although they are called Independent School District certainly are under a Man dates from the state of Minnesota as to what they have to teach and those what they call minimum mandatory have increased and are projected to increase that schools must offer advanced math School must offer a foreign language. We're going to talk about whether the three of you think that's a good idea. Is it a good idea that the state sets up those minimum mandatory after we take this next call from International Falls. Go ahead with your comment, please. The piece that scores in the smaller schools were abysmal Hilo. Nobody seems to be concerned about your students having such low scores when combining schools help gravy scores up if you will go through that list and you take the the top 20% of those schools. You will find that 40% of those schools have classes of less than 100. I think that I think that is a pretty good indicator that small classes are doing a pretty good job on the star and tribune Sonos PSAT scores. Yes. I'd like to dress that to I've done some checking into the national testing and I've seen it schools with a population of 1000 to 1600 do the best on those tests. But I also have a problem with reading schools. Even if they're closed when you look at the list somebody's at the bottom and that does not necessarily mean that that is the worst school in the state. It's Minnesota has a good educational system and we should be proud of it and we should be able to try to make it better. The other problem with the testing is that some schools in order to get up on the list will be teaching to the test. And I think that's his dismal mistake. I'd like that also that mop that motley's Junior knowledge Bowl team last year. Came in 31st in the whole United States and that for four schools of its size. It was number 3rd in the nation. I think Molly has a good education. And and I think this is something that that verifies that the small schools can give good education, I guess in the city of this afternoon Irvin bjerga feed store owner in Motley a member of the concerned citizens group there in a candidate for next month's School Board election Kathy Berger who's from the Iron Range. She has been on the mountain iron school board for 7 years the Mountain iron-buhl School Board and Glenn Anderson from Bellingham is Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee of job. He's held for 16 years are phone number on the special live call-in show is one 800-525-4999. That's toll-free 1-800 525 4999. If you'd like to join our discussion, give us a call this afternoon or next caller on the line from Fargo. Go ahead with your comment, please. Department of Education this is burgundy want to respond to that why I never been told by the state department when they consider a small school and what they consider a large school. A lot of people think our school system is small with 1,100 students and all the same to this afternoon's conversation. I find that we're probably a larger District. I believe it out of school system of 1000 to 1500 students K through 12 can be efficient and offer all the courses. That's right. We would like to offer our school system does for calculus Advanced biology three foreign languages. We do pair and share spring Sports and another sports with neighboring districts. Are we have a Cooperative a vocational program and we are also cooperating an academic programs with the neighboring high school. There are a lot of things that can be done. And of course, it makes a difference where your school is situated. I think a small I really do believe that a small school system of less than 500 or 600 students will have a difficult time offering their students the requirements and becoming efficient. That is one reason the bill District became Cam position where they had to consolidate we actually had enough students for 1 and 1/2 teachers per grade and that is very inefficient. Mr. Anderson does the sea? favor larger schools well, not straight out, but it does in certain ways because Wella formulas and it's a very complicated formula but various things are built into it and I believe the probably what benefits the larger schools more than anything else is what's called maturity where Morris Day date is paid where were a high ratio of the staff has longer 10-year and higher degrees those 10 is here to get higher salaries and that gets built into the formula. Some of the core City Schools get a little higher state is because of the FTC portion of the formula single parent families, they get extra because it's considered by the state that they are more at risk students. There's a host of things. We tried this past session to build in some Equity funding because there is quite a quite a range of per pupil funding from from the bottom to the top. And of course, it's all goes also on on local property valuations. The first half of the session we pumped in I believe about 25 million dollars that would benefit. Some of them are smaller districts in the state. That was at the disadvantage of some of the Suburban districts a political pressures this session reverse that somewhat there was a $10 more per pupil unit awarded to some of those districts that suffered a year ago $20 across the board for fuel per unit was put in and $30 done for for some of those districts but off into the future. I believe funding may not be totally on a purple unit that infects the formula may be changed also to recognize curriculum. and I between that and redistricting coming up in 1990-91 which will shift we figure about 8 to 10 House Seats from rural Minnesota into the metro area and open enrollment which will be a reality Statewide in 1990-91 school year and I believe that many of these changes are coming that we have to plan in the smaller districts are the state in advance of them coming and by planning in advance and by talking to her neighbor's five or ten miles down the road that we will have a lot more input into what the future of our local schools are then if we just ignore the situation by those students I feel that when a child is at risk in a smaller school system where the teachers know all of the kids and I'm talking in grades of a hundred 225 the still know all of their students those teachers do have the ability to identify those students at risk. If the state is going to force us into larger school systems. We're going to have a bureaucracy looking for Children at Risk and probably never identify them we go now to Grand Portage you're on the line your comments please first one is that it's interesting that this broadcast does not include the metro area. I don't know whose decision that was. But it demonstrates to me the problem that I dealt with is a school board member in namely that we have separated the stadium in a butter into inside and out Dayton Metro Greater Minnesota, and now the Western Minnesota legislators and especially not with the census in the northeastern Minnesota laws in the state Aid Pharmacy. The plight of the small cool which is essential to democracy and I realized that money is an important consideration and fiscal responsibility. But I also realize that we have a tremendous responsibility and I support the speaker today who are advocating retaining the Community School. Please tell me if you had the wisdom to keep your Elementary School. Unfortunately Pay Here in Cook County. We used to have 35 schools in 7 school districts in retail now to one school district and we have a 2 1/3 elementary schools in 1 High School. and I think are superintendents in our board members and our legislators and the whole state has got to realize that how important it is for the small school in the preservation of democracy in that doesn't mean sacrificing quality education by any means do I encourage every person who is working toward retaining the community school to be careful of elitism. Which translation steak to pan is making a mistake though. They seem to be superior. Remember that in the long run. Your quality education begins in your community. Thank you. Thank you for your call we go now to Northern Hubbard County. You're on the line your comment, please. Yes. I have some comments to make what is I disagree that small schools are not able to offer the quality of Education students get a really good quality small school where they can relate better with their teachers can easily pick up the courses that they didn't receive in high school say before they go to college. This seems to be not a big problem has a pick up those courses. Mammy said they could easily pick them up. How would you see them picking those courses up a very good face with crystyn teacher relationship small school where they learn to really be good students and study. They don't think they are not learning. Now. That's a will have the strength to be able to pick up the courses that are offered better than the ones who go into college who had the courses offered are not constant who cannot do very well as far as expressing themselves. They just don't have a strong base. I just don't feel it the trade-off and the other thing I want to come in on is I'm happy with the education that my children receive but in order to get that they ride the bus. two and a half hours Now they need to go to school for six and a half hours. And of course their school day when you count the bus rides to family life because they have to eat had to get enough. Up early. You have to catch the bus and then go on to school. This is a bad trade-off to We have heard a lot of adults calling in today and saying keep the schools in the communities smaller can be better and yet many of the students certainly the John biewen and I talked to and we were preparing the series that preceded this program today many of the students. I think we could say most of the students we talked to said we are missing out a little bit kid in Motley told me I had to drop a class and there was nothing else to take there was nothing else offered during that hour that I could take has it been your experience the three of you that the students are perhaps not as resistant to going to larger schools than perhaps the parents mrs. Berger. Yes. I always said laughingly. I may be mean at all the adults should sleep for about 20 years and I can do just fine. A larger school system. I'm not talking a huge school system can offer you all those courses. We are now at a requirement. I believe it's next to us graduates that will need a foreign language to interest a college students that do not have a very strong good background in the math and science areas will have more difficult time in college. It may have caused parents in extra year of college tuition to get their students caught up. I don't believe that the state should try to get down to one or two hundred schools. I I think that's impossible. I think interactive television prayer is a special I Can Cook County are very important in the state has the obligation to spend more on those districts because they are remote or are they supposed to going to Staples? As you are opposed to having them go to Staples? I think you could you could pull children know every month. And I believe you will find that children. Probably will vote pretty much the way their parents feel. I think their parents change your mind. I think it's the students change your mind. I think they I think as far as the majority of many ways. They you know, the kids change your mind everyday probably my daughters had an argument with every girl in her class, you know one time or another but right away the next day they're friends so is how your daughter's feel? Well, my daughters would like to stay in life play next caller is on the line from Duluth. Go ahead with your comment. Please play misapprehension in the notion that the problems of the small schools in the problems with a large schools are somehow so distinct that you can use play separate them and deal with him separately as I've heard and I visited a lot of small school districts as well in northern, Minnesota. Unless I've heard the conversation today. I hear problems that we've faced in the Duluth School District. We've gone through all of the problems that the focus on the Iron Range in the folks in the world, Minnesota are struggling to come to grips with weave close the high school. We've closed junior high schools be closed Elementary and it was agonizing and there's no way to do it and and have United Community Support doing it. It just can't be done that way. So all of those all of that frustration that concern is very familiar to people in areas like ours and and in the Metro region where they have lost the will but they valued I think that in some very important ways we ought to start looking at what all of the schools in the state have in common what we need in common that would enable us to produce the best job that we can do because I think that each of the school district brings a special flavor and a special gift to the work they do I think that we need to start looking at the at the needs we have in common and our legislature. I think it's going to have to come to grips with the fact that for the last about 8 years. The schools in Minnesota have been that is the progress that we've made has been fighting behind the progress made in neighboring states other states are beginning to spend it and that never was true before and we are now sliding down to a mediocre performance not an outstanding performance and state-supported school. And what do you see the solution to that problem is being Are willing to spend money on education and we are willing to pay money into taxes in order to do that. You have to see a difficulty with that when we tell you that a 1/3 of the households 1/3 or less of the households have school age. Children Kathy Berger is from a district that twice now has defeated Levi referendums to raise more money locally for their schools and prospects for next month's referendum. Do not look good are the people willing to spend more money are those two thirds of the people who don't have school age children are they as willing as you are to raise their taxes in my judgment? We haven't a choice the prosperity of this state has been based on the success of the school system. And I don't think that those are independent and if the schools are allowed to decline if the schools are allowed to slide down to mediocrity. It is going to cost the state so greatly in every manner possible imaginable. And unfortunately, we've been at this process of of not supporting the school that we are genuinely the results Minnesota is losing ground against the rest of the nation. We're still ahead. We're losing ground against the rest of the nation. So it seems to me that if the legislators are willing to take a leadership that they will find a constituency out there that is articulate. That is a very hard-working and is willing to make a strong case for investing in the future of the state and the only way we can invest in the future of this day. The longest lasting investment is investing in the school. Thank you for your call. Today we go down to Menahga your comment, please. I have a reference that refers. Call H long School. accepted media I like situation as compared to those from the Metropolitan. classes in the metropolitan or larger school system So so you would have been willing to send your children. Perhaps farther than they went to school if they had had some of those additional courses offered to them. Wake up a fact that their thank you. Our next caller is on the line from Virginia, Minnesota. Go ahead. Please don't go out to eat and catch up. Consolidated we were able to offer a student's chemistry and physics on a yearly basis there were times and we had to offer them alternate Lee. We've added Advanced biology. We've added calculus. We've got a different math track now or the students start Nails around the eighth grade. We offer presently three foreign languages up to three years in two of them and and growing if we can still afford them by next year. We've offered several extracurricular and curricular activities for the students junior high on Senior High. The strangest let me get back to a question that was raised earlier. Is this whole subject too hot to handle for legislators? Certainly what I talked to them they say this is very controversial in the man from the State Department of Education said we don't even like to talk about it. There will be no discussion until 1990 till after the election and redistricting gets going is this a really controversial hot subject for legislators virtual no doubt about it, but not as as controversial as high as it was when I was first elected at that point in time 16 years ago. You didn't dare talk about it. And I think probably more in the last six years with the decline in the real economy. And the rural economies have been changing student enrollment have been dropping one of my communities was really really upset with me a year ago. they have come to me and flat-out said they sat down around the table looked where they had been looked where they are and looked off into the future decided. They didn't have any option and I would say that Community is about 85% in support of this merger at the present time will take one more quick phone call from Rochester. Go ahead with your comment, please. Because of the changes that we seen in the world economy the price drops land valuation, so we are also because it is it is so much gotten into the public psyche that's become one with another Community by UCI. I believed that providing a better education at the same or less tax dollars than we currently are which should merger of two or three or four or districts in many parts of the states would do well. Well impact enhancer really, it will give us a much much better chance to bring industry into our communities as well as getting a better education has Burger. I've noticed on the Iron Range when the economy went down our students went to college when they kind of Me grew our students stayed at the mines. I think is that Man in Greater, Minnesota does go down our students need at their college education even more or technical director for this special call-in show was Rob daily phone traffic was handled by Dorothy Hanford. Our satellite uplink was operated by Scott Bridgewater and Scott yankus. Thanks to Mark Conway in the staff here at ksgr for helping us put this show together. The special call in program was a production of NPR's Main Street radio team and was made possible by the blandin foundation supporting Economic Development leadership and education in rural, Minnesota.