East Grand votes down technology tax
November 5, 2009
Citizens of the East Grand School District put technology improvements on hold 1,691 votes to 1,262 when they defeated a tax override measure on Tuesday.
“I think it’s a clear indicator of the uncertainty in the economy,” said East Grand School Board President Tom Sifers, himself re-elected unchallenged on Tuesday.
Although he was somewhat surprised by the measure’s defeat, he said.
“I hadn’t run into that much negative feedback. Generally people in the community support the school system,” he said.
The technology tax would have continued an existing override for another three years, helping the district achieve its goal of putting a laptop in the hands of every student and furthering technology training for its faculty.
With the measure’s defeat, the district will now struggle to maintain the progress made from the override, Sifers said. “Technology is going to have to take a back seat.”
Superintendent Nancy Karas said the district’s technology department is in “decent shape” for another year, thanks to past mill-levy funds.
“We’re better than what we were three years ago,” she said. “But a year from now, we’ll really start to feel the impact of that loss in revenue,” she added. “We won’t have the money to enhance and upkeep the current level of technology.”
One employee who installs equipment and helps to keep systems up and running will not be re-hired in December once his contract expires, Karas said. The district will strive to maintain other technology department jobs, she said.
The district’s accountability committee is reviewing ways the district might cut $977,000 out of the 2010 general-fund budget and $890,000 out of the 2011 budget due to deep cuts on the state level. The district anticipates a 4 percent to 10 percent drop in school finance each year for the next two years.
“Losing the technology money just multiplies the problem,” Sifers said.
For this reason, East Grand officials may consider re-running the ballot question next year, according to both Karas and Sifers.
“It’s the only means we have left to raise money outside of the state formula,” Sifers said.
Until then, “We’ll evaluate and get a better read on the community about what the community is expecting from the East Grand School District,” he said.
Referring to the 1,200 voters who approved the measure: “I appreciate the support of the public that did support the East Grand School District.”
– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.