Local Political Group To Hold Forum

Manhattan community leaders will discuss factors that affect school enrollment and the future of public education in Manhattan-Ogden USD 383 at a League of Women Voters forum 2 to 4 p.m., Sunday Nov. 18 at the Fire Station Headquarters at the corner of Kimball and Denison avenues.

Lyle Butler, president, Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce; Ron Fehr, city manager, Manhattan; Mardee Hutchinson, councilperson Ogden City Council; Sharol Little, superintendent, USD 383; and Ned Seaton, general manager, The Manhattan Mercury have agreed to participate in the forum, which will be free and open to the public. A Riley County speaker has also been invited but is not yet confirmed.

The League organized the forum because many questions that were raised during public discussions about education have gone unanswered according to League of Women Voters President Debbie Nuss. These questions often touched on issues such as population shifts, housing costs and availability, the relationship between a strong public school system and the business community, employment opportunities, property taxes and their affect on school enrollment and how closing a school would affect property values and tax revenues.

"As the League attempted to find the answers to the questions that were being raised, we concluded that these are community and not just school district issues," said Nuss.

An important forum goal is to generate discussion from different perspectives that could lead to better public understanding, and possibly new ideas to meet school district challenges said Nuss. She stressed the importance of including community leaders as well as school district officials in the discussion.

The forum will be conducted in two parts. During the first part panel members will talk about their roles and how these roles may impact public education in USD 383. The second part will allow audience members to pose questions to the panel. A League member will moderate the forum.

"The League of Women Voters is pleased to offer this forum and encourages citizens to be informed, active participants in their government," said Nuss.