Champaign County district puts 1 percent income tax on ballot

Sophomore students at Graham High School study for an exam in English class in April. Bill Lackey/Staff

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Sophomore students at Graham High School study for an exam in English class in April. Bill Lackey/Staff

Graham Local Schools will officially be on the ballot this November seeking a 1 percent income tax.

If passed by voters, the school will net about $1.9 million a year. It would cost someone who makes $30,000 a year about $300 annually.

“It would go toward technology to put into students hands and for our teachers to teach,” Superintendent Kirk Koennecke said. “It would also pay for new lab equipment, new class room designs so that students can collaborate and work together.”

The school board has discussed the ballot issue over the past several months.

“We just feel that right now is a good time in order to be pro-active to maintain what we have been trying to do with an already streamlined budget,” Koennecke said.

He said the idea of an earned income tax came from a group of residents who worked together to create a plan for the future of Graham schools.

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“The group of citizens made a financial goal so we would be proactive now rather than reactive in the future,” Koennecke said. “We are right now in a position to continue to budget without deficit spending. We don’t want to be in deficit spending in the future.

“This levy is sorely needed shot in the arm,” he said.

The school district will work to continue to provide a quality education to students if the levy fails, Koennecke said, but it would be difficult to continue to add programming without additional money.

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“We have added some programming with no new staffing or budget money,” Koennecke said. “We have added programming and we have done that without new funds. We have used grant money and we have added internships. We’ve tried to become more aligned to the new strategic plan but to realize the goal of the plan we do need new funding.

“If we fail in November we are going to have to continue to find ways to be competitive for our students with what little we have,” he said. “Maintaining our good schools is critical to and we would not be able to maintain it if we don’t address the financial future.”

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