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Vote yes on Tuesday for the school and our future

Finally, and safe to say thankfully, the finish line is in sight and the end to a tumultuous and far too long election season will come to an end on Tuesday.
We’re sure, and like always, Ely area residents will sift through the rhetoric and take a look at the mud-splashed candidates, at least at the national and Congressional levels, and make their own decisions behind the curtain. A growing number of residents, about 250 in the city of Ely alone, have already taken advantage of the early voting option.
As is our tradition, we don’t endorse candidates for president or the U.S. House, or for mayor or school board for that matter, on this page. We trust our readers to look at the facts, explore the issues and personalities and make a decision that best reflects their own interests.
But on Tuesday there’s one issue on the ballot that we’d like to weigh in on - an issue that does not involve personalities or individual campaigns but instead the community as a whole.
Without hesitation or a second thought, we support a “Yes,” vote on the operating levy renewal proposed by the Ely School District.
Much has changed since 2006, when voters narrowly approved a much larger levy. The state of Minnesota, recognizing the importance of K-12 education across the state and a need for operating monies, has pumped more state funding into education while giving local school boards the authority to bypass referendum votes to collect about $700 per student in operating levy revenue.
This leaves just $252 per student, plus inflation, up for renewal as the levy expires this year. For the individual property owner, the tax impact is negligible and arguably unnoticeable. A $100,000 property would be hit with a $3 tax hike as the result of a yes vote. It amounts to a cup of coffee or two or perhaps the spare change between your couch cushions.
While the tax impact is next to nothing across the district, the revenue the levy provides is needed for a district that, for years, has been looking to do more with less.
Enrollment seemed to bottom out a few years ago and is back on the upswing, be it ever so slightly. But whether there are 35-50 kids in a class or more than 100, as there were in the district’s heyday, the school still needs to provide the basics ranging from curriculum to staff to activities to facilities to make Ely an attractive place for families to live.
As an ad placed by levy supporters this week indicates, good things are happening in the Ely schools. You read about them each week in the Echo. The high school has been honored for a second straight year as a state reward school, and Ely graduates are well prepared - and do great things - at colleges and universities across the country.
Not a week goes by when we aren’t writing about the success of an Ely athletic team, the performance of a thriving music and arts program, or some form of community service performed by Ely students.
More students are filling the hallways at Washington Elementary and that only bodes well for the future of an independent school district in Ely.
But staying independent requires recognition by the community, and a commitment by way of property tax dollars, that a thriving school district is a key cog - perhaps the most vital cog - in Ely’s future.
Let’s keep the future bright for the Ely School District and vote “Yes” on Tuesday.

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