Ensuring the success of December's excess levy renewal election was the top item on the agenda during the Harrison County Board of Education's work session on Friday.
"The excess levy is essential to maintaining a quality education for the students of our county," said Dr. Carl Friebel, superintendent of schools.
Friebel said businesses look at the quality of the educational system before considering a move to the area.
"If they have children, they will want it for their children. If they don't have children, they will want a good system to guarantee a qualified workforce," he said.
Sharon Haddix, board treasurer, gave a presentation to highlight the history of the excess levy and some of the projects it has covered.
Harrison County has had an excess levy for the past 44 years, and is one of seven state counties that will ask for a renewal this year, Haddix said.
The excess levy generates more than $11 million each year for such things as textbooks, library supplies, science equipment, extra curricular activities, technology and band support.
As mandated by state law, every student in Harrison County receives free textbooks. The average cost for books for an elementary student is $310 a year, for a middle school student it is $490 a year, while textbooks for a high school student cost approximately $660 per year.
"Without the levy we would have to cut something else out of the general budget in order to provide the textbooks," she said.
Board members plan to garner local support for the levy by speaking to local school personnel, businesses and civic groups in the coming months, using the information presented today, Friebel said.
"We hope to get a lot of people involved to help make the community aware and to gain some endorsements. We'll keep emphasizing it's for the kids," he said.
Assistant city editor Gail Marsh can be reached at 626-1447 or by e-mail at email@example.com.