The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce encourages the MCCSC school board to act now on determining the budget for the referendum dollars.
The Chamber supported the MCCSC Referendum because we recognized that the referendum was necessary to ensure our community’s future. We work daily to build better business and a better community and current and future students comprise our future workforce. Moreover, today’s students are the children of area employees and employers.
Through the Chamber’s Franklin Initiative, we partner with local schools to staff a full‐time Graduation Coach at each high school, funded through outside grants. Due to this and other dropout prevention strategies, the number of students who dropped out last year decreased by 17% from the previous year.
However, the Graduation Coach Initiative has also taught us that schools need more resources, especially when it comes to engaging at‐risk students. The number of dropouts continues to be too high in MCCSC, and that will continue until we address the sobering fact that thirty percent of MCCSC students are not reading at grade level. Therefore, literacy and dropout prevention need to be a primary focus.
On November 2, voters stepped up and supported the referendum. Due to time constraints, class scheduling for the fall, etc. the board had to act swiftly after the election. They formed a committee of respected school and community leaders to make thoughtful, rational recommendations, supported by data, on how to spend referendum dollars.
The committee, which included experienced MCCSC staff with an inside understanding of the needs faced by our students, proposed a comprehensive system of literacy interventions and implementation of an effective alternative school model proven to reduce the dropout rate. Their recommendations will improve educational outcomes among the students who need it the most, and they need to be implemented now. Our students don’t have the luxury of waiting for the next superintendent, and every day matters.
As a volunteer member of the referendum steering committee, never did I hear promises to restore the school system to its identical state before the cuts occurred. When The Chamber publicly voiced support for the referendum, we advocated that referendum dollars be used to decrease classroom sizes, increase the graduation rate, and to fund reforms where needed. We must continue to look for improvements in order to best use the additional resources generously bestowed by the taxpayers.
Voters approved the referendum to support our children and MCCSC. They entrusted the board and staff to then make the tough decisions about what is best for our kids. We now have additional resources to keep our community competitive, and there is no need to accept the status quo. That is why The Chamber urges the MCCSC school board to act now to seize the opportunities presented and not be content to continue with business as usual.
Finally, we recognize that these are extraordinary times for MCCSC. Our school system continues to face major challenges, but also amazing opportunities. We look to the school board to set the vision for the desired outcomes for our schools, and thank them for their countless hours of service addressing these important issues.
President & C.E.O.
The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce