With great effort and painstaking precision, Graham Local Schools has spent several years making needed cuts in order to stretch our daily operating budget. That budget pays for the utilities, supplies, equipment, staff, and is directed to the classroom for students. Until last November, we had not sought new operating monies for years.
Stretching our funds is a part of how Graham operates. It is ingrained in our culture. When we made deep cuts in 2011/12 in order to offset some hard times for our schools and community, we again did what it took. It has been over twenty-five (25) years since voters of the district have approved additional operating revenue for the district. The levy was passed in 1992, and the district let this levy expire in 2004. It is a remarkable feat that the district has stretched its operating dollars without additional tax support from its citizens.
Now, to maintain a quality of education we are proud of, we are in need of additional operating dollars. We, as a school board, did not come to this decision lightly. In fact, we worked with our community members to forge a strategic plan, Graham 2020, with a fiscal goal to seek the appropriate funding at the appropriate time.
This is the single most important issue facing our schools. If we do not secure additional funds we will act to cut $1.5 million from our operating budget. Cuts would have to occur to operations, staffing, student services, and increased fees would result for all. These actions would harm our ability to provide the current quality of education and our students’ ability to compete. The need is real. We need your help now.
Please pay attention over the coming weeks and months as we work toward a May 8 ballot issue, and make it a point to ask any questions that you may have going forward. We look forward to receiving your feedback.
Ryan Pine is president of the Graham Local Schools Board of Education.