Graham Local Schools on the ballot for the 3rd time in year

Graham Local School is again asking voters to pass the same levy its residents have rejected twice within the last year.

Graham voters will head to the polls on Nov. 6 to decide whether they are willing to pay a 1 percent earned income tax to help fund the district that leaders say is desperate for the additional funds.

MORE: Graham Local schools deal with cuts, will seek new levy in November

The district cut more than $1.5 million from its budget after voters rejected a 1 percent earned income tax levy in May.

“It’s been devastating,” Superintendent Kirk Koennecke said. “The loss of services and the loss of staff, many of whom have worked here for years, have affected our climate, our children and our level of quality education. The transportation services alone have been cut over 33 percent.”

Voters rejected the levy in May by a margin of 51 percent to 49 percent. That rejection took place about six months after the district failed to a pass the exact same levy in November.

The district laid off 15 employees — bus drivers and classroom aides — to make up the deficit in May. The district also implemented pay to play and raised fees more than 40 percent on their student-athletes.

“Everybody is affected,” Koennecke said. “That’s fewer supplies, less material and fewer repairs in the district.”

If voters approve the levy this November, the district will take in about an extra $1.9 million a year. The new levy would cost an employee making $30,000 about $300 a year.

Previous: Graham schools again seeks levy after November defeat

While Koennecke says the money is vital to restoring a top education at Graham, a website dedicated to failing the levy says the district doesn’t need it and that it takes in enough tax dollars to operate a healthy school.

The website argues the district takes in enough money from property taxes to make up for increased costs.

Koenecke said if voters approve the levy in November, the district will try to quickly get back what was lost in May.

“If we can pass the levy we will bring back our transportation to previous levels by Jan. 1,” Koenecke said. “The other fees would be repealed after the school year. We will also bring back some key staff like aids and bus drivers.”

Facts and Figures

3: Times Graham has asked voters for new money in the last year

$1.5 million: Amount cut from Graham budget after levy failure in May.

33 percent: Percentage of busing services that have been cut since the latest levy failure.


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