By the Echo Press Editorial Board
Voters will decide the fate of two school referendums on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Those living in the Brandon-Evansville School District will cast their votes in a two-question ballot. The first question is whether to approve a $19.9 million referendum that will convert the existing Brandon facility into a pre-kindergarten through grade 12 school. It will include construction of an elementary school addition and improvements, an early childhood addition and construction of high school renovations and improvements. Those include construction of a band and choir addition, along with improvements to the cafeteria/commons area, classrooms, restrooms, locker rooms and parking lot.
The second question will ask voters to approve a $5.3 million referendum that will be used to construct a multipurpose gymnasium addition with locker rooms and a dedicated Charger Kids Club area at the Brandon School site.
Question two is contingent on question one passing.
The tax impact of the referendums can be found by going to the website, https://www.bechargersunited.com/tax-impact.
In the Alexandria School District, voters will decide whether to fund an operating levy. If passed, it would financially support classroom supplies, instruction, transportation, staff salaries and other operating costs.
The ballot will ask voters to choose either yes or no on increasing the school district’s general education revenue by the following tax payable amounts: $375 per pupil for taxes payable in 2020; $485 per pupil for taxes payable in 2021; and $595 per pupil for taxes payable from 2022 through 2029.
The proposed new revenue authorization would be applicable for 10 years unless otherwise revoked or reduced.
The first year of the operating levy would amount to about an extra $120 per year for the owner of a $220,000 home, which is the average home value in the district. In year two, the tax increase on the average home would amount to $34 more than the first year, but that second-year increase will be largely offset by a reduction in the tax levy due to the refunding of existing bonds, according to the district. (Note: The tax affects each property differently and the figures given are estimations.)
Both school districts deserve credit for thoroughly discussing the many aspects of these complex school funding mechanisms through dozens of meetings and for urging residents to get involved in the process. The process, in our view, has been open, transparent and thoughtful – just as it should be when taxpayer dollars are involved.
We, too, encourage residents to learn more about the referendums through our past stories and future coverage, and by attending school board meetings and asking questions.
Paid letter policy takes effect
We’d like to remind readers that our paid political letter policy is now in place for letters that endorse either a yes or a no vote on the referendums. Those letters will be charged 10-cents per word and the maximum length is 200 words. We implemented this policy decades ago because we received so many letters around election time, there was not enough space to print all of them. Other options – drawing letters at random or trying to select which letter was more worthy of printing than others – fell short of solving the problem.
As is the case with regular letters, writers are limited to one letter per 30 days. Letters must include a name and address. No more than five names can be attached to a letter.
The last batch of referendum-related letters will be printed in the Wednesday, Oct. 30 issue and must be received before 10 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 28.