On November 7, residents who reside within the St. Joseph School District will be asked to vote on whether the School District will be allowed to raise its tax levy. This will be a critical vote for the district and the community, and in my opinion, will set the path of both for many years to come. While there is much debate
about the need for the increase, from my perspective, we need the additional investment in our local public school system in order to raise our standards and expectations for public education in St. Joseph. We must have one of the top school districts in the state and we should not settle for anything less. It starts with providing adequate financial resources to the School District.
Ensuring we have the means to deliver the best education possible to our children, which allows them to access future opportunity and security, is something every community should strive for and embrace. Frankly, it starts with quality teachers who have the skills, knowledge and passion to be effective educators. We are blessed in St. Joseph to have such teachers, but we must provide compensation, benefits and opportunity to retain and attract quality teachers to the District.
The business community clearly understands that providing access to quality education is paramount to recruiting a successful workforce. If local schools do not produce an educated and skilled workforce, employers will simply be forced to look for quality employees in other locations, thus relocating jobs out of our community.
Yes, this request for additional resources to improve our School District is for the students, the teachers and our employers, but it even goes further than this. As a community, we will never be successful without a top-rated school district. I don’t care how much we spend on streets, how much effort the police put toward crime prevention, how nice our parks are or how much redevelopment happens downtown. It will not be enough to be a successful community until we support our schools adequately and make them great. I am talking about the type of school system that will make people want to live here so their kids have access to the best education possible.
We can make this happen in St. Joseph. Why do we deserve anything less? It is time to move forward, put petty arguments and excuses aside and vote yes to make our schools great. Let’s do it for our community!
R. Patt Lilly
President and CEO, St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce