With the transition from summer to fall, we know that the summer activities begin to give way to new activities. On a small scale, these transitions reflect many of the transitions that occur in life. We see transitions every day as we move from one way of looking at events and practices to another.

In much the same way, Marshall Public Schools is involved in ongoing transitions as well. Key focal points of the district transitions reflect larger scale changes in our society and world. After several tragic events related to school safety and security, we know that we can no longer view school safety and security measures in the same way we did 10 or 20 years ago.

Therefore, the district is proposing a new voter-approved operating referendum to fund safety and security improvements at Marshall Public Schools. The focus of the safety and security improvements would be centered on the primary entrances of each school building in the district. Currently, signage asks our school visitors and guests to visit the office for visitor registration. However, there are no means or methods of intentionally directing visitors and guests to the office for check-in. Therefore, by reconfiguring the primary entrances of each building, visitors and guests will be intentionally directed to flow through each office area before entering the main corridors of each school. Doing so will provide enhanced security measures to monitor visitors and guests to our schools.

Additionally, we know that our world continues to transition to a technology enriched society. Technology is impacting every facet of our lives from self-checkouts at stores, to the way we drive a tractor in the fields, to the use of technology to help us do our work more efficiently and effectively. The world is clearly transitioning to a more networked and connected digital society. Therefore, a portion of the referendum would be utilized to acquire educational technologies that prepare students to compete in a global economy. The technology component would focus on acquiring technology tools such as personal learning devices (tablet computers) to transform the teaching and learning process and to engage students in enriched personalized learning experiences for each student.

The operating referendum question for the two areas of safety improvements and technology investments is for $150 per pupil unit. The referendum would generate approximately $370,000 per year for the next four years for Marshall Public Schools. While the district does receive some support for safety improvements in the school, we know the funding is far from adequate in meeting our needs. The same can be said for capital expenses with technology. Therefore, the district is providing the voters with an opportunity to vote on an operating referendum Nov. 5, 2013. The good news for the community and the taxpayers in this process is that the levy can be accomplished with no tax increase on property owners. This is due to the prudent financial management of the district by the Board of Education. For example, when interest rates reached historic low levels in August 2013, the Board of Education took action to refinance the outstanding school bond debt to save tax payers for school purposes for property owners approximately $300,000 per year. That effort, along with changes in state law, will actually create a net property tax decrease in the Marshall Public School district.

Overall, we know that these are times of change and transition. Our community and school district has always sought to be prudent in times of change by balancing our proud traditions of excellence and quality with a need to embrace improvements and change. The focus of the referendum honors these core community values. Therefore, on behalf of the Marshall Public School’s Board of Education, I would ask that you continue to seek out information on the upcoming November referendum vote. Know that we welcome your feedback and questions. Please feel free to contact us at 507-537-6924 with your questions and comments. Or, you can contact us via email at I would be delighted to provide a presentation to a group of people or answer your questions individually.

As always, thank you for supporting your Marshall Public Schools. It is a great day to be a Tiger!