In these unprecedented times of uncertainty, fear and social distancing, we need each other’s community support more than ever.

Parkview School District like many rural school districts throughout Wisconsin will require an operational referendum to fund its future annual operating budgets. Quite simply, the need for additional money isn’t a result of careless overspending or money mismanagement, but rather the state’s way of passing the hat to the taxpayer. Instead of reinvesting surplus funds to public education, school revenue limitations and state legislators force countless districts to raise money outside what they provide per pupil to balance a budget.

The referendum that the administration and Parkview School Board spent countless hours debating and crafting does not raise the school portion of the property tax rate. The request was not taken lightly, and we all need to be held accountable. However, I believe Parkview staff needs a resounding vote of taxpayer confidence for the tireless work it does to improve our students’ lives every day.

(While I am a school board member, this commentary is solely my opinion and not being drafted in any board member capacity or influenced by the school board as a whole.)

I’m proud to say Parkview is the No. 1 rated public school district in Rock and Green counties as scored by the state Department of Public Instruction. Administration has made considerable efforts at closing the gap of open enrollment. The district continues to improve and expand upon curriculum upgrades and career preparation, such as dual credit initiatives with Blackhawk Technical College. Current classroom sizes promote healthy social growth among student peers and even that of long-lasting relationships between students and teachers.

Parkview has introduced a rigorous technology platform that used in conjunction with its phenomenal teaching staff has shown very promising results in less than one year. And in these extraordinary times, this technology is being utilized for virtual education in the fight against COVID-19. A common goal of an educator is to close the gap between students who excel and those who struggle. We have more work to do here, but the data suggests we’re succeeding. It is my hope that our students like many alumni before them, including myself, leave those hallways grateful for their education, career or college ready, and proud to be a Viking.

There are several ways to vote, including absentee balloting as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please go online (elections.wi.gov /voters/absentee) to be educated on this process. I encourage you to vote “yes” for our referendum April 7. Your positive vote would further our efforts to unite our community and emphasize our social distancing is only temporary. Now more than ever, it truly takes a village to raise a family.

Zach Knutson has been serving on the Parkview School Board since last April.

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