Montello resident looks for community support to pass April 5 referendum

To the Editor: 

I’m sharing this information with you because everything that makes Montello such a great town is about to be destroyed. I’m not kidding, I’m dead serious and I don’t think enough people understand what is all at stake here. 

I’m not originally from Montello, I moved here about three years ago. Over the past three years I have fallen in love with this place. This small town has so many beautiful and wonderful attributes. 

I love that so many of the wonderful attractions are just the simple things that nature provides, like fishing, hiking, and enjoying a kayaking trip down the river, but we aren’t even limited to those things. We have an awesome library, a movie theater, and several places to sit down and enjoy a meal. 

Besides all those extra fun things we have, this town also provides basic needs. We have gas stations, a grocery store, and the Dollar General. 

I have news for you; all of these things are at risk. They are at risk because we are not fighting for them. We aren’t fighting for them because we aren’t fighting hard enough to keep our school. 

If we continue down this path, we will lose our community. If this April 5 Referendum does not pass, the school will be forced to make even more cuts than it has already. 

Right now the cuts have been mostly burdening our district employees as their take home pay is actually less now than it was five years ago. Most school districts spend 75-85 percent on staff salary and benefits, while Montello spends 62 percent. The district is desperately trying not to affect the quality of education they provide but that’s pretty hard to do when you are being told to make more and more cuts.

If this referendum fails, budget cuts could directly affect what the school has to offer our students. What would the district cut...sports, choir, band, art?

If the district closes its doors, students would be bused to other districts and some families might even move away.

Thinking about open enrolling students in a different district? Effective this year, districts were required to post open enrollment limits for each grade level and subject no later than Jan. 31 of each year. So there will not be that many open enrollment opportunities available. 

If the district closes imagine what happens to the businesses here? They will close or be severely impacted because of a shift of activities to other areas and people won’t be spending money here anymore. They will be getting their groceries, gas and other things in those districts because it will be more convenient for them. One only needs to look to the Village of Neshkoro to see what happens to businesses when a school closes. 

What happens to people who retired here - people on  fixed income? Those people will see their property values plummet, and many could actually see their property tax rise because they will be paying taxes to other school districts that currently have higher tax rates. 

So now, will you start to be an advocate for our school? We need all supporters to gather and be united. Right now, the group that has made the commitment is small, and their efforts are large, but if more of us band together…well many hands make light work.

If more of us get together, each of us will be required to put in less time to accomplish a greater goal. Can you spare a few hours? Can you get a conversation started? Do you want to help? I want to work with you! I want us to all work together to save Montello!  

/s/ Ashley Janssen, Montello