Graham plans more cuts if school levy fails

The district will make cuts regardless of levy results, but leader says more needed if it fails.

Champaign County voters in the March 19 primary are being asked to pass a 1% traditional income tax levy that would help raise over $2 million a year for Graham Local Schools.

The levy would help raise an estimated $2,738,807 a year for five years beginning Jan. 1, 2025, to support current district operations and facility maintenance.

“The board of education approved the levy due to the district’s five-year forecast and continued deficit spending despite implementing other cost-saving measures,” Superintended Chad Lensman said. “Graham has experienced high inflation and increased costs in all operational areas, like all school districts.”

The district will make $600,000 in cuts regardless of the levy result. The cuts include technology supplies; reduction in teaching, guidance and classified staff; reduced school psychologist support, and contract services through the Educational Service Center.

If the levy fails, the district will continue to make cuts, Lensman said. They would have to make $400,000 of additional cuts for the 2024-25 school year that could include field trips, additional teaching positions, supplementals, mileage and professional development.

The levy committee has been working to campaign through community meetings, phone calls, mailings and signage.

Graham is the only school district in Champaign County that doesn’t generate additional operating revenue through a levy outside of the school funding formula, Lensman said.

For example, Triad Local has a 1.5% traditional income tax levy, Urbana City has a property tax for operating, Mechanicsburg Exempted Village also has a 1.5% traditional income tax levy and a 1.96-mil emergency property levy, and West Liberty-Salem has a 1.75% traditional income tax levy.

The district has previously dealt with the consequences of past failed levy attempts.

The last levy on the ballot was a 1% additional earned income tax levy in May 2019 that was rejected four times. The district had to make cuts as a result of the failed levy, including cutting five full-time positions, eliminating high school busing and adding fees for some courses.

Voter also said no to a levy in May 2018, which resulted in $1.5 million cut from the budget, 15 jobs lost and five bus routes eliminated.

For more information about the levy, visit

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