Graham Local Schools

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GRAHAM SCHOOL BOARD: LEVY CANNOT WAIT, NEED IS URGENT

DATE POSTED:  December 13, 2017normal'>SAINT PARIS, OH- After the failure of the November ballot issue, the Graham School Board unanimously voted to return immediately to the ballot in May for a 1% earned income tax. The earned income tax issue is the same as the November request except this time the need is more urgent and cuts will occur immediately if the levy does not pass.

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normal'>“This is a lean request and frankly it still doesn’t provide all that we need,” stated Steve Setty, board president. “That’s how lean this request is, and that’s how urgent the need is. Without additional funds, we simply cannot afford to operate at the same level, and cuts will need to be made. This is the stark fiscal reality of what we are facing.”

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normal'>In the district’s case, approximately $1.5 million would need to be cut if the May 8 levy does not pass. Superintendent Kirk Koennecke stressed that with a budget as lean and small as Graham’s, this represents a serious hit for the district.

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normal'>Graham Local is already running lean. Any cuts made would be in addition to the $2.35 million cut in 2011-12, and additional cost savings measures enacted since that time. That round of cuts saw the loss of twenty-four teachers, along with other support and administrative staff, along with academic programs.

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normal'>“The need did not go away with the November failure, and it will not go away with a May failure either,” stated Koennecke. “Instead, it only worsens things. It affects our schools, the education we can provide, our community and ultimately opportunities for our students. There is urgency to get this done with the May election.”

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normal'>It has been 24 years since the district asked for and passed a ballot issue for operating funds.

normal'>A 1% earned income tax issue would tax earned income only. Retirement, Social Security, pensions and similar forms are not considered earned income and are exempt from the tax. Even with the passage of a levy, Graham would continue to have among the lowest operating tax rate in the 7 county area, and the lowest per pupil expenditure in the area.

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normal'>If the levy passes, then the district can maintain the same, lean quality of education. If it fails, the district will need to examine and enact cuts immediately after the May election.  As for what those cuts specifically are, the board is working with the district to determine those measures with an announcement expected in January. Cuts would be effective after the May election and into the following school year.

normal'> “This is not a discussion that any of us wanted to have and all options are on the table right now. It is impossible to say that it would not be detrimental to our schools or to students. There is just no way around it,” noted Setty. “We will continue to communicate with the community about the seriousness of this levy in an open and transparent way. These schools belong to all of us, and the May election will determine what we want our schools and community to look like.”  

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