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Editorial - Your letters are welcome in debate over new high school

It's good to see the comments and questions readers are sending in about a proposed new high school in Alexandria. The newspaper has received many letters about it, along with a couple of commentaries. The only way to fully understand an issue is...

It's good to see the comments and questions readers are sending in about a proposed new high school in Alexandria.

The newspaper has received many letters about it, along with a couple of commentaries.

The only way to fully understand an issue is to ask questions, read other people's views and get straight information from credible sources with insights that can be backed up with facts.

Although the District 206 School Board has not officially acted yet to put a new school referendum before the voters, having a thoughtful communitywide debate on the issue now can help district leaders understand residents' concerns, insights and initial reactions.

Speaking of initial reactions, we urge readers to keep an open mind throughout this debate. Those who have taken one look at the preliminary estimate of the project (around $70 million) and firmly locked their minds against it, no matter what they hear from now on, are missing out on what promises to be a good discussion - about student and community needs, about future costs, about long-range planning, about the very future of education in Alexandria. The discussion may not ultimately change their view, but people should at least weigh all these factors and many more that will likely arise in the next few months.

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Because a new school referendum hasn't been approved to go before voters yet, the newspaper has not enacted its paid political policy for letters about the topic. We will keep trying to publish all the letters we receive in a timely fashion as space allows.

Because of the importance of the issue and in response to our front-page coverage of the school plans, we've allowed two commentaries on the subject, presenting two different points of view (one appeared on March 18 and the other one is in today's issue). From here on out, however, we'd like readers to state their opinions in a shorter letter-to-the-editor format. This will allow more readers to express their thoughts and provide a forum for more viewpoints.

Letters must be 300 words or fewer and signed. Letters that are longer than that will be edited so try your best to stick to the word limit. Please include your full address for verification purposes (only the name of your town will be printed. It's also helpful if you include your telephone number in case we have any questions about the letter.

Another key part of our letter-to-the-editor policy: Writers are limited to one letter per month. This, once again, is to encourage a wider variety of views on the Opinion page.

The deadline for the Wednesday issue is noon on Monday while the deadline for the Friday issue is noon on Wednesday. You may either e-mail letters to aedenloff@echopress.com , fax to (320) 763-3258 or mail to Echo Press, P.O. Box 549, Alexandria, MN.

We encourage readers to join the debate, read other opinions, ask questions - and get involved. This is an important issue that will affect school children, our education system and our pocketbooks for a long time to come.

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The following is an opinion column written by an Echo Press editorial staff member. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.
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