To the Editor,

I would like to respond to last week’s letter to the editor written by Peter and Elaine Nelson. 

Everyone has the right to vote their conscience; conscience however should be guided by accurate information.  I don’t know where you got all the percentage increases you quote (Google gives somewhat different rates), but I can agree that the cost of living is going up. With rising costs, it comes down to what we hold most important; where our priorities lie. Despite the rise in gasoline costs, if it’s their priority—people continue to travel.  Despite the rise in food costs; restaurants are still full of people who go out to eat.  

Despite inflation and its effects on people’s pocketbooks—attendance at Vikings games in 2022 is currently at 96.2 percent at an average cost of $209/ticket. The point I’m trying to make here is that we spend money on what’s important to us. I would hope that high on that priority list would be the education of our children.  They, literally, are our future. 

As you stated, “infrastructure does not educate children.” That’s true in the fact that teachers/staff are the most important part of a school system. However, you need an adequate, safe building in which children can attend school. Parts of our current elementary building are well over 60 years old; the HVAC system is out of date and does not do an adequate job of heating or cooling the school; games have had to be rescheduled to neighboring schools because of the high humidity in the gym making the gym floor unsafe. Bathrooms in the elementary are not accessible for children with handicaps.  And on and on. 

How can anyone argue that our facilities are not inadequate? Have you done any work on your house in the past 60 years? If homes need repairs and modernization, why would one think schools do not? Do we allow the school building to fall apart? Do we patch it here and there and keep bringing in contractors year after year at an overall higher cost? Or do we kick the can down the road, put off fixing it now and push it off for future generations when the costs will be higher yet? That’s assuming we are lucky enough to have a school, because it will become harder and harder to compete with neighboring schools if we don’t address the problems that exist in our own. Let’s also talk about safety. The unfortunate reality is that we live in a world where school shootings happen all too often,  and they don’t only happen in big cities like we would like to think. Our current school building does not have the safety measures that they should. They don’t even have the safety measures that other schools around the area have. Administration offices are spread out throughout the building with the principal’s office being right in the center of the school. Not to mention, the fact that walkers, parents picking up their kids as well as buses all are congested in the same area.  Safety is a genuine concern.  

You talked about the calculation of a $200,000 home seeing an impact of $48 per month. You may choose to look at it as $48 or $576 per year.  I choose to look at it a different way—$48 divided by (approximately) 30 days in a month is an approximate cost of $1.60 per day—less than the price of a cup of coffee at a coffee shop.  Can I give that cup of coffee up for Henning kids to have a safe and modernized learning environment? Can I give it up to help ensure that our community stays alive knowing that the heart of our community is our school. To both questions I say “Yes, Yes.” You see, it’s all about perspective and how you choose to look at something. Further you went on to say that “there are probably not too many $200,000 homes out there and if there are, most likely a senior citizen is living in them.” Well, that’s not true in my case or for many people I know in Henning. 

My home in Henning has a market value of under $100,000 and I haven’t reached senior citizen status yet. I choose to live in a modest home that meets my needs and still leaves me with some money to do some things with. Again, it comes down to priorities. 

Finally, I would like to address your comment directed at the school administration coming up with a “realistic plan.” The school, to date, has had 7 community input and listening sessions asking for public input to help us both recognize and address the inadequacies in Henning school.   Approximately 100 people in our community have been involved in providing their input which helped to guide the board and administration in the development of the current plan. Were you there? Have you attended any of the open houses the school held to give tours of the aging building, discuss the current needs, see the architectural plan or address any questions you might have had?  I sure hope so. And if you haven’t, why not? Because the unfortunate truth is that, just looking the other way will not change the current reality of an out of date, unsafe and inadequate building.   

Our superintendent has visited with countless area businesses and civic organizations and would be happy to answer questions from anyone who asks. Please be an informed voter.  


Deb Hart,