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The levy and what it means

A funny thing happened at the polls Tuesday.

People took time from their busy days to drive there, stand in line, grab a No. 2 pencil, and go off in a booth and fill in the circle that essentially said, "raise my taxes."

Then they filled in the second circle that said, "raise my taxes more."

In this economy, that's pretty incredible. But it marks a realization by the communities of Wadena, Deer Creek and Bluffton that although no one likes higher taxes, this was necessary.

And there are benefits. First off, the whole burden will not be carried by local taxpayers, as it happens in many communities. The state will be matching what local taxpayers contribute. There's also the benefit to the communities as a whole that more teachers' jobs will be retained, resulting in a better local economy.

It is important to say this: Tuesday's vote is not a cure for all ills. The school will not be rolling in money now. It will still be pinching pennies. And the board will need to be careful with every dollar, just as they have been doing.

And issues remain. We clearly heard people don't like the open enrollment busing issue, there are questions of whether tuition-free college classes are of the greatest benefit, and the transportation and expense of sporting teams will always come up. We shouldn't wait 10 years, until this levy expires, to talk about those things. We should do it now. The dialogue has been opened.

But before we ask those leading our school to roll up their sleeves and tackle yet another difficult and contentious issue, let's give them a minute to enjoy what they've done -- getting a levy passed in one of the worst economies in memory. It has to lift a large burden off their shoulders. Supt. Ginny Dahlstrom deserves the largest heap of praise. She was tireless in talking about the school and being accessible to speak frankly about its issues. She was clearly the difference between "yes" and "no."

The taxpayers themselves deserve our respect, too. They'll be carrying the burden now for 10 years, and it won't be easy to do.

It's a strange coincidence that in today's Pioneer Journal, we have a piece on the differences between the generations. One of the traits of the silent generation, also called "The Greatest Generation," is its willingness to sacrifice for the good of others, during World War II, during the Depression. It looks like those in WDC's district are digging deep and doing it one more time for today's kids. Bravo.

This editorial represents the voice of the Pioneer Journal editorial board, and not necessarily all of its employees. Today's editorial was written by Steve Schulz, editor and publisher.