First grade students at Graham Elementary gather around their teacher for story time Friday, Dec. 15, 2017. Bill Lackey/Staff

$1.5 million in cuts coming to Graham if income tax fails again

Graham Local Schools will have to cut $1.5 million in spending if voters again reject a tax increase, its superintendent said.

The school plans to go back to the ballot again in May to ask for a 1 percent earned income tax. It would cost taxpayers who make $30,000 about $300 a year. It would generate about $1.9 million for the district.

MORE: Graham Local Schools income tax fails

The school board passed the first of two resolutions to go back on the ballot.

Voters defeated a similar tax increase by 61 percent to 39 percent in November.

“Our board feels that while we made progress and we want to try to continue to reach out and engage with our parents and community members and make sure they understand we are trying to secure financial health for the district,” Graham Superintendent Kirk Koennecke said.

The district decided to go on the ballot because its five-year forecast mandates that either the school convinces the community to agree to pay more or cuts will have to happen, Koennecke said. The cost of personnel, school materials and other expenses usually go up year after year, he said.

PREVIOUSLY: Champaign County school district looks to put income tax on ballot

“We will be deficit spending in 2018 and we have to work within those parameters,” he said. “We are going to have examine all of our operations.”

And that means cuts would come at every school building, he said.

“It would have to affect all parts of the district and that’s why we are doing research and homework how we could even manage that,” Koennecke said. “These are things nobody wants to talk about or do.”

The levy was soundly defeated in November but Koennecke said he believes the district can do better this time.

READ: Graham voters to decide on income tax increase

“One of the concerns I had in the past election was the number of voters age 20 to 50 that turned out,” Koennecke said. “It was a low turnout in this county and the number of people in that age was low and many of those voters may be our parents and community.”

The district will again reach out to parents and those who are involved with the school to try to pass it this time, he said.

The money will be spent to pay for classroom curriculum and programs to help students succeed, Koennecke said.

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