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City voters demolish budget, more cuts coming

With the budget defeated, school officials had to decide whether to immediately go to a contingency budget, which carries a 0-percent increase in the tax levy, or to put up another budget for voters to decide on.

They opted to create another budget with a smaller proposed tax levy increase.

School board member Clayton Morris suggested a budget with a 2-percent tax levy increase and another $100,000 in cuts to sports spending.

“We are an education system and are not here for sports,” Morris said.

Tracy Rotz disagreed. He supported a 2.84 percent increase in the tax levy with no further cuts to athletics.

In the end, the board decided on a 2.84 percent increase in the tax levy, which comes in below the state tax levy cap of 3.01 percent.

“You’re not going to like some of these reductions,” said Superintendent James “Jake” Short.

To get from the 5.8 percent increase to 2.84 percent, the board will have to trim more than $500,000 from the proposed budget.

A contingency budget would require cutting another $600,000-plus on top of that.

If the budget is defeated a second time, the school district must adopt a contingency budget.

The additional cuts are not yet set in stone, but proposed reductions include $150,000 in special education spending, the elimination of engineering classes and reductions in spending on music and Odyssey and child advocacy, the elimination of a dropout prevention program, and the loss of 14 instructional and six non-instructional positions.

School board member Dr. David Stone noted that there was an edge to the May 15 election and a lack of civility in the district.

People lashed out, and he was accosted by someone voting against the budget, he said.

He said that without a quality education, in 10 years former students will end up on the welfare rolls or in prison.

He stressed that there was a depth to the issue that people must understand.

“We cannot compromise our children’s education,” he argued.

Stone called on the public to passionately vote in bigger elections, and hold to account leaders who have failed to deliver a modern, fair and equitable system for funding public education.

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