Column: From the Desk: By Jerry Ness

You are invited to attend the annual Veterans Day Program at 10 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 10 in the Gold Gymnasium at Kennedy Secondary School, 601 Randolph Ave., Fergus Falls.  Our high school presents a wonderful tribute to our veterans through music, dance and speeches.

Fall musical

The Fergus Falls High School theater department brings “Man of La Mancha” to the stage for its fall musical. Opening Nov. 10, the masterpiece tells the story of Miguel de Cervantes, a dying old man who refuses to relinquish his ideals or his passion. Imprisoned, he becomes Don Quixote in a play he has written to be performed with the other inmates. The musical is inspired by the book “Don Quixote,” written by Miguel de Cervantes in the 17th century.

“A cast of 15 students, plus the pit orchestra and crew have been working hard this fall to bring the classic to life,” stated Ethan Johnson, director of the show. The audience will recognize the famous song, ‘The Impossible Dream’ among others. Join us in exploring what it means to hold your ideals in the face of overwhelming adversity. As Don Quixote says, “Facts are the enemies of truth.”

The performances are Nov. 10, 11, 17 and 18 at 7 p.m. at Kennedy Secondary School and a matinee on Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $4/students and $7/adults and are available at the door.

40 percent Ag Bond credit starts in 2018

The 40 percent agricultural bond credit, known as Ag2School, will take effect in 2018. Owners of farmland will see the reduction in the upper right hand corner of their Truth-in-Taxation notices this month.

The Ag2School credit applies to all current and future capital referendums, as reported by Minnesota Rep. Paul Anderson in a report from the Council of State Governments. If a farmer’s levy for a school building referendum was $25 per acre, for example, the state would provide him or her with a credit of $10 per acre (40 percent).

In the Fergus Falls School District, Ag2School will reduce 2018 property taxes by $164.28 per $500,000 of agriculture and privately managed forest land. This will total an estimated $272,449 of tax relief for farmers with land in the Fergus Falls School District.

This agricultural bond credit passed into law in June continues to have a broad base of bipartisan support. It is permanent law, existing into perpetuity, as stated in the appropriations portion Subdivision 5 of the statute: An amount sufficient to make the payments required by this section is annually appropriated from the general fund to the commissioner of education. It would take an act of both bodies of the legislature and a signature by the Governor to amend or repeal the program.

“Repealing or reducing the program would mean a vote for raising taxes on the backs on rural Minnesota farmers and harming equity in school funding for kids and parents,” said Sam Walseth, Director of Legislative Affairs for MREA. “Not only is this extremely unlikely, but the strong coalition of like-minded rural interests (MREA, farm groups and others) would link arms to defeat any attempt to renege on the 40 percent credit to farmers for school facilities for rural children’s education.”

Many schools in rural Minnesota have pressing facility needs that are necessary to provide high quality educational services in their communities. Ag2School will also create a healthier environment for communities to solve their school facility needs with a reduced financial impact to our farmers.

Jerry Ness is the Fergus Falls School District superintendent. His column appears each Wednesday.

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