SPRINGFIELD SCHOOLS District makes case for renewal



Levy renewal proponents have been getting the word out.
By VIRGINIA ROSS
VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT
NEW MIDDLETOWN -- Springfield Board of Education members added a new element to the National Night Out festivities held in New Middletown on Tuesday.
Along with the games, food, fireworks and demonstrations, the school board offered area folks a closer look at the Springfield School District.
The school board, along with a group of area residents, has been working the past several months to encourage folks to renew the 1 percent personal income tax levy, which expires at the end of this year. Residents voted against the renewal in the March primary.
School board members and district administrators have said they hope that by giving the public more information, area residents would be more willing to vote for the renewal in the November general election.
Educational campaign
Levy renewal proponents have been taking every possible opportunity to get the word out. They also plan to attend the athletic boosters fall dance Oct. 23 and to hand out information Nov. 2, Election Day.
Tuesday, they set up a booth and conducted a survey designed to allow residents to give the school board some feedback on what they think about the school district. School board members, district representatives and administrators were on hand to answer questions.
"The thing is, at an event like this we don't want to focus on asking residents to vote for the renewal levy," said Max Heinl, school board member. "But we want to give them some information about the school district, how we rate against other schools and information that can help them make an educated decision."
Potential risks
School officials have said that without the money the levy generates, the school district likely will face deficits of $642,000 in 2005 and nearly $1.7 million in 2006.
The lack of funding could cause the school district to go into fiscal emergency, meaning the state could move in and take control. Or the school district could be forced to consolidate with another school district.
The school board, at its regular monthly meeting in August, plans to vote on whether to include the income tax levy renewal on the general election ballot in November. School board members have all indicated they are in favor of the income tax levy renewal.
Members said they would especially like to gain the support of parents of small children and families that are new to the area.
"That's why we thought Night Out would be a good opportunity, because we knew there would be families with young children here," said Peggy Jones, school board member. "We want them to see where the money goes and how it is used to benefit their children."
National Night Out festivities have been conducted throughout the country for the past 21 years. New Middletown has been participating in the event for six years.

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