South Point board hesitant on third levy run

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 14, 2000

SOUTH POINT – After striking out twice, South Point school officials don’t know if they’ll go to bat on a third and final levy run.

Tuesday, March 14, 2000

SOUTH POINT – After striking out twice, South Point school officials don’t know if they’ll go to bat on a third and final levy run.

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"My thoughts are the people in the South Point School District don’t see the need to spend money on new schools," superintendent Rick Waggoner said at the regular board of education meeting Monday. "I’ve come to the conclusion the board and employees cannot pass this levy. It will take the push and pull and support from community members. Without the community members, it’s not going to pass."

More than 1,600 residents voted against the 4.84-mill property tax levy March 7. The local tax would have provided a $7.1 million local match to about $23 million in state building assistance funds.

If only 417 more residents had voted yes, the district would have been able to begin planning the construction of a new high school and consolidated elementary school, as well as the remodeling of the current high school into a middle school.

Before deciding whether or not the district will pay the estimated $7,000 to $8,000 to have a special election in August, board members need to hear from the community, Waggoner said.

South Point resident Jack Wheeler said he spent many of his free hours trying to get the word out about the new school project. And he’s willing to see if another election would be worth the board’s time.

"I would like to form a Concerned Citizens to Save Our Schools committee," Wheeler said. "And I’d like to take a month to talk to people. I’d like to have people in this area talk to people. Most people seem to say we need to try again but, if we do, we need to reach some of the people we didn’t reach before."

If the levy is going to run again, and board members decide to spend the $7,000 to $8,000 to do it, then something needs to be changed in the tax proposal, said Harriette Ramsey, a Burlington resident and elementary school employee.

"The voters have spoken as to the way it was presented," Mrs. Ramsey said. "I think it would be ridiculous to put the levy back the way it was. The majority is saying they won’t accept it the way it is.

"There are some things we’d love to have and then there are necessities. You need to get down to what is needed."

But no matter how much South Point receives from the state, whether it is $1 million or the full $23 million, school district residents will have to come up with $7.1 million.

Local contribution amounts are determined by a state formula, board member Glen Seagraves said.

"It doesn’t matter if we scale the project down to $15 million, we still have to come up with $7 million," Seagraves said. "We may as well spend the $30 million."

The district might be able to survive as is for the next few years but without the school replacement project, South Point area residents will be asked to pass another levy sooner than they might think, Waggoner said.

But the next levy won’t be for $7.1 million, Waggoner said.

"Two architects have said that we need to make $14 million in renovations," he said. "That needs to be done whether you can see it or not. When you have a room at the middle school that’s close to 350 square feet and the new state standard is 900 square feet, it kind of makes you sick. We’re OK right now, but we won’t be in the future and South Point will have to pay three times as much."

Board members have until May 25 to decide whether or not they will have a special election in August.

August is the last time a school levy may be placed on a local ballot to secure state building assistance funds for South Point. If the levy fails again or is not put up for vote, South Point’s chance at $23 million will go to the next district in need of new facilities.

"There are 34 or 35 schools waiting in line," board member Gary Morrison said. "If we don’t pass this, we’re going to be passed and it’s not coming back."