We must vote "yes" on the District 90 referendum on April 9 to retain our valuable educational system with excellent teachers and reasonable class sizes in O'Fallon.
If it does not pass, our K-8 grades will lose music, art, computer classes, physical education, athletics and other extracurricular activities. Furthermore, services for special needs students would be eliminated and class sizes would increase to the point that teachers would be unable to meet the educational needs of each child. Retaining these valuable classes and activities within our K-8 system is imperative for the continued development of the minds, bodies, spirits and hearts of our most precious commodity -- our children.
In art classes (music and the visual arts), students are encouraged to be creative, express their feelings through art and experience a sense of belonging to a group. Athletics, physical education classes and extracurricular teams prepare students to be healthy individuals and teach them the values and rewards of working together as a team for a common goal.
Numerous studies have confirmed the integral role that arts and athletics play in the formation of a well-rounded student. According to the Keller School District in Fort Worth, Texas: "The percentage of students passing all classes is up to 26 percent higher among students involved in one or more arts or athletic activities."
Passage of the referendum will increase our taxes only minimally and will keep our schools attractive to potential home buyers. Currently, families move to O'Fallon just so they can enroll their children in the O'Fallon schools. If our music, art, computer classes, PE, dance teams, cheer leading and athletics are eliminated, the quality of education will suffer, and our city will lose its reputation as a community known for its outstanding schools.
Subsequently, our property values will decrease, and we will experience a decline in the value of our homes -- not to mention the loss of our sense of pride for our community as a whole.
To retain quality education for the sake of our children, to retain an outstanding educational system for the city of O'Fallon, and to retain the value of our homes and a sense of pride in our community, we must vote yes on April 9.
On Saturdays this month, a group of O'Fallon residents, co-chaired by Michelle Dippel, Jacque Grout and I, will be canvassing door-to-door to educate O'Fallon residents as to the importance of this referendum. I hope to discuss this important issue with you. Thanks so much for the sake of our children.
Gail Hagler Fleming is a professor of music education at UMSL and SLU. She taught music at OTHS and O'Fallon Junior High from 1985-1998.