Referendum helps the community

Published 4:27 pm Tuesday, September 13, 2022

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By Gema Alvarado-Guerrero

Parenting Resource Center Executive Director

My name is Gema Alvarado-Guerrero, and I am the executive director at the Parenting Resource Center, a nonprofit organization that provides families with resources and educational services to promote healthy and safe lifestyles throughout southeastern Minnesota. I have two children enrolled in the Austin Public School district, where I have lived for 23 years.

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Working with parents, I see firsthand how funding for schools supports children and families in our communities. Quality public schools like ours prepare students for their futures. As a parent myself, I understand the value of athletics, arts programs, and other activities in preparing students to lead rich and fulfilling lives after graduation.

Next year, our district faces a $3 million budget deficit. Without increased funding, the district will have to reduce staff, support programs and extracurricular options, as well as increase class sizes. On Nov. 8, voters in the district will decide whether to authorize increasing the district’s operating levy by $470 per student.

If approved, the referendum would allow the district to maintain staffing levels and class sizes while preserving successful student programs and support services. An average homeowner in the district with a house valued at $170,000 would see a $12 monthly property tax increase.

I am proud to be an Austin community member – a community that has always supported each other during challenging times. I encourage everyone to learn more about this important community decision at and make your voice heard on Election Day.