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  • Writer's pictureEmily Berry

What does it mean to "Say Yes" to our schools?

I see there's a campaign to tie the referendum question to the idea of supporting our schools and community: Catchphrase, "Say Yes to Shorewood Schools."

I want everyone in the village to say yes to our schools. Please do. Please show up for your kids and their teachers.

Talk to your kid about school.

Talk to your neighbor's kid about school.

Take an hour each week to volunteer in your kid's classroom.

Chaperone field trips.

Try catching an SHS sporting event or play that your kid isn't in.

Try researching an issue in the schools that you care about, then get involved in making it better.

Read your school's report card and dive into the data on academic achievement.

Ask your teacher what he needs for his classroom.

Ask another teacher how she spent the most in-service day, and then sit down and listen as she explains how hard she's working on being a better at her job.

Write letters to state lawmakers demanding equitable, sufficient funding for public schools.

Show up to school board meetings and ask for raises for teachers and staff.

Ask about ways your employer might support Shorewood students with internships or class visits.

Ask your kids what could be better at school and empower them to speak up about those things.

Heck, run for school board.

"Saying yes to schools" can be many, many things, and most of them I think are far more meaningful than a vote in April.

I have been volunteering in my kids' schools since my daughter started kindergarten. I have helped run volunteer-powered events. I know who shows up to pitch in and who does not. I can't help but love the people who show up. Many of those people will check "yes" for the referendum, and many will not. The ones who vote "no" are not anti-school, and I won't stand for them being vilified.

You can care for your schools and be willing to pay higher taxes, but you might also worry for your neighbors whose children are grown and are just barely able to afford to stay in their home. That's just one legitimate reason to hesitate to support this borrowing by the district -- I think there are several.

I will vote in favor of the bond issue because I think we can't wait any longer to address some of the needed work. But I don't think the "no" voters love their kids, our schools or this community any less than I do. Some, I know, "say yes" in ways that are much harder than checking a box or putting up a lawn sign. To label them as anti-school is not fair, not accurate and is unacceptable to me.

Apathy is the real enemy. Not showing up, not asking questions, not pushing for better answers, for action on all of our district's challenges, is a far greater problem than hesitating to sign off on a $65 million bond issue.

You should know how every school board candidate is feeling about this referendum, but also know that this is really up to you - you as a voter decide whether this debt is authorized, on April 2, the same day you decide which candidates for school board get your vote.

Whoever sits on the board after the election will be faced with a very, very busy year no matter what the outcome. Between now and April 2 is in some ways the easy part. I hope that everyone who is adamantly "saying yes" will be there, still paying attention April 3 and the days that follow.

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