The last vote was about the taxes.
This one is about the kids.
The Greater Johnstown school board has done all it can within the limits of existing contracts, required expenses and protecting existing programs in paring down the school budget to a more palatable level for taxpayers.
If voters turn down the revised budget Tuesday (June 19), the district will be forced to adopt a contingency budget, which will significantly and negatively affect the students.
That’s why, in returning to the polls for the revote, voters should accept the proposed 3.7 percent increase in the tax levy, allow the district to provide the services and programs offered under the trimmed-down budget, and continue to work with school board members, school administrators, state legislators and one another to ensure students get the best possible education for the lowest possible cost.
The original $35.8 million budget carried a 4.9 percent tax levy hike. Because of the district’s negative-2.5 percent tax levy cap, approval of that budget required a 60 percent super-majority of voters to pass. The same holds today.
In preparing the original budget for the May vote, the school board made about $1.1 million in cuts to staff, programs and expenses.
It’s spent the last month cutting even more, including eliminating a half-time technology teacher and a half-time media specialist, combining 7th- and 8th-grade modified sports teams, making the full-time athletic director position part-time, eliminating the marching band and school newspaper, and freezing the salaries of the superintendent and assistant superintendent for two years.
If the budget fails again and the district is forced to adopt a contingency budget, it will result in more cuts, of about $308,000, including all modified sports, bowling and cheerleading, swim instruction, closing the pool for a year, no new equipment purchases, and elimination of unpaid use of district facilities.
A contingency budget also would put the district further behind in reducing its four-year budget gap — essentially kicking that problem down the road and making it more difficult to close the deficit in subsequent years.
A 3.7 percent tax levy increase is a difficult pill to swallow, we know.
But further cuts as a result of a ‘no’ vote will hurt the kids the most.
Tax-minded citizens need to keep them most in their thoughts and vote yes on this revised budget.
Voting takes place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the high school auditorium lobby.