Getting Back to Even Ground
I ran into a friend the other day I hadnt seen in a number of years. After a few minutes of reminiscing he told me how things had been going for him and his family. A job loss from the economic downturn had thrown them for a loop, putting them in tough financial straits and crushing their sense of well-being. He said he recently found a new job and I commented that it must be a tremendous relief. He replied, Well we quit digging into deeper debt, but we still have a long ways to go to fill in the hole we made and get back to even ground.
The sentiment is exactly how I feel at North Marion School District. Four years of deep budget cuts has left us in a real deficit situation. While I appreciate the increased budget we will experience next year, it will take a long time for us to get back to even ground.
Our school boards decision to go out for a local option levy in May is an acknowledgement the hole is indeed deep and that filling it back in one shovel-full at a time will mean years of underserved kids, limited instructional resources and continued delays to needed infrastructure repairs and improvements.
The local option levy will allow us to speed up the recovery process and immediately start to restore and improve our educational system at North Marion. Funds from the levy will be targeted for instructional materials in language arts and math, computers for students, network upgrades, restoring lost positions and elective programs, replenishing building and department supply budgets, supporting co- and extra-curricular programs, tackling delayed maintenance projects, installing new alarms and additional surveillance equipment and much more.
The levy only lasts for four years. During that time it adds $0.74 per $1,000 of assessed property value (about $11 per month for the average home in North Marion) to the school tax rate and brings in more than $583,000 per year. It also qualifies the district for a matching grant from the state that will bring in an additional $309,000 to the district with no new taxes to our patrons.
Most of all it helps us get back to even ground, restoring our sense of well-being and allowing us to deliver the kind of educational opportunities our kids deserve and our parents expect.