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North Marion School District is appealing to voters for the second time in a year to generate money for operating costs and capital projects through a four-year local option levy.

When the measure failed in November, we were dubious about it being successful a second time around, especially since little, if any, of the language in the voter pamphlet has changed.

However, this time around, campaigners are taking a more focused approach, laying out specifically what the money will go toward and in what order of priority. This solid, straightforward presentation is enough for the Independent to encourage voters to say yes to Measure 24-366 on May 20.

The targeted areas that will benefit if the levy passes are instructional support, maintenance, safety and technology. The “wish list” spells out a number of items within those categories, and just about every item starts with the word “restore” or replace.” It’s apparent that the district has had to thin down year after year, and the result leads to low morale and test scores.

Not only will the passage of this levy provide $583,336 in the first year alone, but it will also qualify the district to get a matching grant from the state, accumulating an additional $309,168 in that first year. The effects that kind of money could have on the school district is huge.

Consider that in seven years of the North Marion Auction, $250,000 has been raised. We don’t want to discount the efforts and amazing service provided through the auction, as it has been able to help certain programs continue even during economic hardships. But if the North Marion Auction is able to do so much for the district by supplying less than $50,000 annually, imagine what the grant money alone could do if the levy passes.

Like it was advertised in the November election, the levy asks for $0.74 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. That means the owner of a $200,000 property would pay around $12 a month.

We don’t think that’s asking too much of a community that lives and breathes all things North Marion. The school district is the hub and the centerpiece of north Marion County, its graduates are long-time supporters and its residents are immersed in school events. So is it really too much to ask the community to continue to support its kids? Besides, those living in the North Marion boundaries have one of the lowest permanent tax rates in the state, and it will still be lower than most.

This may be the second time North Marion is seeking this levy, but campaigners are better prepared this time. They have listened to community members, have worked to get the word out in a more tangible way and have not let November’s loss discourage them. They are determined to get your vote, and we support this, because if North Marion students need anything, it’s better schools, more academic support and confidence in their community.

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