Sevier School District officials haven't given up on the 32-station computer labs for which they lost funding when residents defeated a two-mill leeway tax proposition. Administrators and board of education members are considering other possible ways of financing the program.
"It's probably harder to recover emotionally from a slim election loss than from a landslide," Superintendent Brent Rock said. The issue was initially defeated in the primary election, and the school board recalled it for the general election. It went down to defeat by only 100 votes.Rock said defeat of the proposition makes financing decisions about the computer technology program more difficult, but praised those who supported the issue. "The school board is determined to do what we can with the resources available, limited though they are, so you can be assured that there will be technology in our schools."
The board is deliberating about its options and is expected to make a final decision at a meeting on Dec. 13. The superintendent admitted that the computer technology plan will have to be scaled back to a quarter or a third of the original size.
The leeway would have provided $165,518 from local taxes and $282,000 in state funding for each of the next four years. The state funding is lost without the district's matching funds, which would have been forthcoming through the leeway tax. The district had received $192,000, but that can't be spent now, either.
Leeway propositions were also defeated in several other districts in the state, although it was planned to use added revenue in some districts to reduce class sizes.
Losing the revenue by only a 2 percent vote spread in the Sevier District (1966 to 1866), Rock said he was pleased that there is so much support for the schools and that this is the "heartening" part of the experience. He praised citizen committees who worked to get the leeway approved.
A disappointed Sally Henry, who chaired the task of trying to convince people to vote for the tax, said she felt "if we got out the vote, the people, as individuals, would study the issue and vote for education." She added that voters may have not have fully realized the impact of the proposition, voting it down because of opposition generally to an increase in property taxes.
Rock said school officials remain optimistic that a funding approach will be found. It is expected that the issue will go on the ballot again. The district has the authority under state law to impose the leeway tax without taking it to the public, but the board opted to give the people a voice in the matter.