Levy promises bright future for district


Photo courtesy Erin Lemanski

The Stillwater Choir department sang in their annual Fall Choral Festival at St. Andrews Lutheran Church on Sept. 29. The Festival was concluded with a mass choral performance of Trres Cantos Nativos with all the choirs singing together as one.

Olivia Braun

To the delight of many, the school district pulled off a “yes” from voters for the levy on Nov. 5. 63 percent of voters benefitted the students, teachers and families of the district by choosing to extend the levy.

The levy passed Nov. 5 will generate $16.2 million for the school district in total. $11 million comes from the expired levy and $5.2 million as an increase from previous year. Some money from the state became available as a result of legislative action last spring. This is fortunate as it lessens the blow to taxpayers in the district, who as a result are expected to contribute an average increase of $14 per month per $250 household.

Before the levy, prospects were hopeful for its success.

“Lots of people asked me before the vote what would happen,” said District Superintendent Corey Lunn, “and I was cautiously optimistic.”

As for where the funds will go once put into action, it is a step by step process that enhances the community as a whole.

“The plan for action is exactly what we told people before the levy—this is important for trust building within the community. Financial stability to the district, Bridge to Excellence and security systems are the main focus,” said Lunn.

By providing financial stability, it will support current programs and help to avoid more cuts in the future.

“Overall our goal is to maintain and improve the education and experience of students,” said Lunn.

Bridge to Excellence is a program that recreates how students learn by better preparing them for the future. It will help students to develop in every aspect of their lives—socially, academically, emotionally and physically—and improve their relationship with the world around them.

“Bridge to Excellence is a community driven plan with a strong emphasis on personalized education,” said Lunn, “There is a big focus on learning for the future and the whole plan will be carried out in 300 steps over 5 years. World languages and cultures will be added to each elementary school, along with extended art programs. Exposure to these areas of study, especially world language, is important starting at a young age.”

The most immediate implementation, however, is the improvement of security in the schools, such as the addition of secure school entrances and quick response systems.

“We’re meeting right now with architects and hoping to have the systems finalized by the start of the next school year,” Lunn said, “Safety for all kids and staff is the first priority, including the expansion of bullying and support programs.”

Ultimately, the experiences of students are sought to be improved.

“Building faith, knowing what your passion is and having flexibility as a student are all important to us. Intervention will be available for those who need help, while enrichment will be available for those who could use more opportunities,” added Lunn.

A strategic plan is important for success, and will be followed in order to achieve these goals.

“We are hoping to change the culture of our school,” explained Lunn. “All the best schools across the country undergo a strategic plan. The world is changing fast, so how we are helping students to adapt and prepare is crucial.”

Students, staff, parents and families look forward to positive changes and improvement in the district as a result of the levy.