Shelbyville Daily Union

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March 14, 2014

Schools appeal to voters for sales tax support

Shelby County school districts continue to appeal to the voters to help them as the districts face even more cuts in state funding.

The 1 percent sale tax could bring in an extra $1 million to the county schools for much needed maintenance and improvements on the buildings.

"We are at a critical juncture for our communities, our school districts, and our children," said Shelbyville Superintendent Denise Bence at a press conference Tuesday.

Over the past three years, the State has cut more than $7 million in educational funding from Shelby County schools. A preliminary revenue forecast by state lawmakers last month showed schools throughout the state potentially losing $1 billion in funding beginning July 1. The State Board of Education had requested a $1 billion increase.

"When budgets get tight, we have to look at how to cut spending. We have to prioritize the spending and facilities get put lower and lower on the list. To get by, we have to make do," Bence said.

County schools are aging and heating systems, roofs, and building brickwork are in desperate need of repair or replacement. The proposed sales tax referendum would bring added revenue to the districts that can only be used specifically on the buildings.

Other community members spoke in support of the sales tax.

Local home and land owner, business owner, and parent Tad Mayhall noted that the learning environment for the children is being compromised by the extreme temperatures of the classroom.

"They shouldn't have to sit and worry about being too cold or too hot or water coming down from the ceiling," Mayhall said. "They (districts) are not asking for new schools, but for improvements - not band-aid fixes."

"No one wants to pay more taxes but this is one I'm willing to pay for our children," he added.

David Young of the Shelby County Economic Development Committee noted that schools are what draws families to an area and the failure of schools will cause families to move.

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