Polls remain open until 7:30 p.m. today in Harrison County to allow residents to vote in the excess levy renewal election.
Voters are asked to decide whether to renew the current excess school levy that expires at the end of next June. The five-year levy would supply nearly $12 million per year for the Harrison County school system.
The levy has been in effect since 1955 and has been renewed by voters eight times. If the levy passes and property values remain the same, there will be no increase in taxes.
If passed, the excess levy would be allocated each year across the following areas: Textbooks, supplies and equipment, $1,890.857; library books, supplies and equipment, $145,000; science supplies, equipment and training, $100,000; special education, $44,000; guidance and special therapy, $16,000; band support/fine arts/physical education/art, $187,500; vocational education, $360,000; extra-curricular activities, $81,000; buildings/athletic facilities, $1.2 million; buses and vehicles, $65,000; technology/duplication, $1,295,100 and supplementation of the budget, $6,532,691.
The supplementation of budget would cover staff salary supplements, most of the cost of employee dental and vision insurance, incentive pay, medical allotment and extra-curricular pay. It would also pay for any additional staff, if needed, to meet mandated student/teacher ratios or for other personnel not provided for by state funding.
School officials say the excess levy is necessary to allow the county school system to offer innovative educational experiences
"Our mission is to give the best quality educational opportunities we can to our students. The levy funds provide us with so many additional opportunities that we couldn't otherwise offer our students," said Dr. Carl Friebel, Harrison County superintendent of schools.
State funding covers the basics for the schools system, Friebel said, but the levy funds provide money to help make an outstanding school system.
"If you want to run a bare bones system, state funding will let you do that. But if you want to offer enhanced technology, to improve facilities, to offer additional instructional materials and to supplement the fine arts and other programs as we have for the past five years, it's important that we continue the levy," he said.
Assistant City Editor Gail Marsh can be reached at 626-1447 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.