To the Editor,

My name is Jessica Strege and I have had the privilege of working with a group of individuals committed to seeing the referendum for the Henning Pre K-12 school pass. On May 9th voters in the Henning School District will have the opportunity to vote on investing $22.7 million on major upgrades, repairs, and safety improvements for our students. Additionally a second question will seek $4.35 million in a multi-use gymnasium. We know these numbers are not small and what we are asking all of you to commit to will make an impact in your personal finances.  For this, we thank you for your consideration and Yes, Yes vote!

  While I know that the reasons this supporters group want this to pass are similar to my reasons, I would like to share why I believe the passing of this referendum is so important to our kids, our community and our future. 

  I feel investing in our school is an investment in my home, my neighbors home and the businesses in our community. In the day and age of open enrollment having a building that is failing to meet state requirements for educational adequacy, is not a draw for people to move to our community. We are fortunate that many of our Henning graduates are wanting to stay in our community and raise their future families here. For families that don’t have a history in Henning, choosing a community to move to is very driven by school choices. Education has changed in the last 30-70 years, this is the age spread of our current building. Group based learning, technology, and safety concerns have replaced the way many of us were taught or what we experienced when we were in school. While I do feel that the  School Board and staff have done an exceptional job at maintaining our school, the scope of the needs have gone beyond the abilities of normal budgets. 

  These needs will not go away. These needs will not get cheaper. Failing to address these needs now will only increase in the future or come at a higher price tag individually than mobilizing all the resources at once. These needs will still have to be fixed and paid for somehow, typically through levy’s and operating referendums. This referendum allows for the Ag2school credit, I feel I am protecting my agricultural friends from having to pay 100 percent in taxes on major repairs like the roof and HVAC and safety improvements, because they will be taxed at 30 percent with this credit. I feel they are getting a bigger bang for their buck and will see their dollars stretch a lot further this way. 

  Passing this Referendum protects the investment many of our long time residents have put into their own homes. Healthy viable schools increase the value of homes in the surrounding district. With many people entering retirement or deciding to sell their homes to begin the next chapter of their lives, providing them with optimal value in their homes resale value is important to me. They paved the way for many of us, invested in our community for years, and deserve to have that value in their homes recognized. Adversely, losing a school in a community sees a huge immediate decrease in home values and results in many struggling to sell their homes. 

  I also feel it protects our businesses and other community resources. They depend on a steady population to continue offering their services. Having a grocery store, bank, drug store and hardware store, and more within such a short distance is important to me. These services are vital to all of us.  Economically, the modifications and updating of our spaces would have an impact on our community.  Currently Henning is the only school in our conference that does not have a third or new gymnasium.  Currently we do not have the space to host our conference wrestling tournament, Knowledge Bowl or multi-team basketball or volleyball tournaments.  Bringing people to the community means they will visit our restaurants, stores, and gas station between matches.  Being able to host these activities brings additional revenue for the clubs and organizations working the concession stands.  It is a winning combination for our businesses and service groups.

  Currently, we do not have the space or room to accommodate all the age groups for indoor recess, PE and other activities. With the addition of a dedicated cafeteria, not only would there be room for the daily activities; band, choir, the musical, boy and girls basketball teams, volleyball and everything else would not have to compete for space. Studies have shown all the benefits of each of these activities, and I feel it is important that they are all able to participate safely and comfortably. With so much emphasis on the trades, the addition of a new CTE space provides an opportunity for our students to grow and discover in ways that are not currently possible with the space limitations of our current technology classroom. If you haven’t had an opportunity to tour the current space, I highly recommend it.  Without the passing of this referendum, their needs can not be addressed. We have classrooms that are so cold, kids are wearing their jackets and hats, and others are so warm, the kids struggle to stay awake and alert.  I don’t feel that this is acceptable or fair to our students.  I don’t feel that status quo or putting a band-aid on repairs is the answer to addressing these issues.  I feel our students deserve more not only today but for their future.

  If you caught Chad’s Editorial last week, I think he embodied the pride we all feel being Hornets.  The school is the heart of a community, not only figuratively, but in small rural communities, literally.  If you take a minute to drive through a community that has lost their school, it is obvious the damage that is done.  I have made my home in Henning since 2009.  It has been an amazing place to raise my son.  He is a Freshman and has spent his entire career as a Hornet. I want future children to have the same experiences that he has, because of the quality staff and administration Henning has.  I feel in order to continue attracting that quality we need to provide current and up to date spaces.

  While it is difficult to adequately explain my reasons for voting Yes, Yes in a few short paragraphs, I will end with this, I know the cost of passing the referendum, but I can’t financially measure what we could lose by not passing the referendum.  If you have questions, are undecided, or are unsure of the tax implications for your home, please visit the Henning School Website, contact Superintendent Melissa Sparks, reach out to a School Board Member or contact any of the Referendum Supporters.  Thank you for your consideration and all the support you have given our school over the years.  Please vote to invest in our kids, our community, and our future.


Jessica Strege,