I take my role as treasurer of the Graham Schools very seriously. It requires open and transparent communications about the fiscal health of our schools. It also requires that I look ahead to what we can and cannot afford going forward. That’s been the bulk of my work right now.
We are on the ballot for a 1 percent earned income tax levy, 5-year term. Yes, this is the same levy that did not pass in November but now it comes with incredible urgency. If it passes, we can keep what we have here in our schools. If it does not, then we have to make cuts throughout our district. That’s just a fact. Just like your home budget, we cannot pay for what we do not have. Something has to go, and in our case, lots of things.
The stakes are high on May 8. If the levy fails, the board-approved list of cuts would go into effect. These include the loss of several non-instructional aides, retirement and other positions would not be filled, student participation fees would increase by 40 percent, and the transportation model would change, including the loss of several bus drivers and a reduction in hours for others.
The complete list is available on our website. The bottom line is that cuts hurt and they hit to the classroom. There is no way around it when the budget is as lean as Graham’s. They also hurt when a district as lean as ours has already cut and reduced over the years. It has been 25 years since a levy for new operating money has passed at Graham, and without a levy now the problem will only get worse.
Please take the time to inform yourself and to vote in the May 8 election. Our schools are an important part of this community. As treasurer, it is my role to sound the alarm when our schools are facing a fiscal crisis. That time is now.
Judy Geers is treasurer of the Graham Local Schools.