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Students and residents weigh in on SWCS levy
Students in the South-Western City School District had a clear message for the community - "don't take away our opportunities."
Students and residents gathered at the April 13 meeting to address the board of education about Issue 15. Most spoke in favor of the 8.3-mill operating levy, but some still believe this is the wrong time to ask taxpayers for money.
The four-year tax levy would maintain current operations in the district, though $1.6 million will be cut to balance the budget for the next school year.
The levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $22 per month or $264 a year. The owner of a $200,000 home would pay $44 each month or $528 annually.
District administrators explain if Issue 15 does not pass, they will cut an additional $6.4 million from the budget, which would include eliminating over 60 positions, high school busing, athletics and extracurricular activities. The district would also close Harrisburg Elementary and Kingston.
From the students
Adam Elliott is a junior at Central Crossing High School. He is active in several clubs, including the key club.
"This seems unreal," said Elliott. "I can't imagine school without extracurricular activities."
Elliott told the board colleges look for students who have a well-rounded background, including academics and activities. By taking the extras away, they decrease college opportunities for students.
"Look back on your high school years," Elliott told the board, "think of your prom and what you were involved in. Don't take that away from us."
Haley Maynard, a freshman at Westland, told the board that she does not yet drive and both her parents work. She said taking high school transportation away is "just not safe."
Maynard is also active in the band. She said she wants to be a drum major, but without band there would be no way for her to reach that goal.
When Julian Jackson was in eighth grade the district was in a similar situation, where if a levy failed, athletics would be cut. Residents voted in favor of that issue, allowing Jackson to participate in football and track and field.
Now, Jackson is a senior at Central Crossing and is student council president. He said he is where he is today, because of the opportunities he had.
Jackson was addressing the board on behalf of his fellow students.
"This is not about me, it's about all the students," he said. "Ask the kids what they would do without this levy. Their answers would break your heart."
The senior said he plans to go away to college and major in education. He plans to come back to the district once he completes his degree. He said when he returns, he wants to see students in sports and other activities.
From the residents
Many residents were on hand to share their thoughts regarding Issue 15. Most spoke in favor of the levy; one spoke against it.
Mary Mulvany lives in the district and has been a teacher for 26 years. She said she can live with duct taped carpet and windows that do not open, but cannot live with fewer opportunities for students.
She said she could stop purchasing two sodas from the vending machine at work and by doing that, have enough money for the $22 a month.
"What are your priorities?" she asked.
Bud Eversman said he is concerned about the transportation cuts and expanded walk zones. Under the proposed cuts, high school busing would be eliminated. Current walk zones would be expanded to include children that live up to two miles away from the building.
Eversman said eliminating high school busing would be inconvenient, but bus cuts for the elementary kids is a major safety concern.
"Walking to school is not the same today," he said.
Eversman said he has a grandchild in third grade.
"I would not want to see her or anyone her age walking up to two miles to school."
The one resident, Terry Jones, on hand to speak against Issue 15 said opponents do not want people to lose their jobs, nor do they want to take opportunities away from the students.
"People have the right to defend their income," said Jones.
Jones said people have lost their jobs and can barely afford medication or groceries. He does not believe it is the right economic time to ask citizens to support schools.
Jones also told the board it is not necessary to take away sports and activities for the students, when most of the operating money would go towards paying employees. He said it was was the board's way of making threats.
Board President Cathy Johnson said the teachers in the district are some of the lowest paid in the county. She also invited residents to seek out board members if they had questions or concerns regarding Issue 15.
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