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As March 15 approaches, members of Citizens for Homewood Schools continue to share their message about the need for referendum approval.

District 153 needs voter approval to sell $9 million in bonds that will help cover the district’s expenses. The state has shorted the district more than $2 million in aid over the last five years and a drop in property values from the 2008 recession has reduced tax collections.

Terry Keigher, who is heading up the citizens group, said the message has been well received. Volunteers have found that eight out of every 10 people they’ve talked with have given positive feedback.

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The $9 million would help balance the budget for approximately seven years. If the referendum is approved, tax bills for homes valued at $150,000 will see a bump of $100 in 2017 and 2018. For the remaining five years, the rate would fall back to the current tax rates.

This is the second time the district has had to ask voters for approval to sell bonds. In 2011, a $7 million referendum was approved. Homeowners are paying off those bonds now.

Volunteers shared the referendum message at Homewood’s Chocolate Fest on Feb. 20 and the Homewood Indoor Farmers Market on Feb. 27.  They blanketed Homewood neighborhoods with information cards last weekend and have hosted neighborhood coffees as well as two public information programs.

To keep the momentum going, volunteers will begin canvassing registered voters to measure support for the referendum and remind voters how important their support is to the vitality of Homewood schools and the community. They are concerned about an unusually high voter turnout because of the presidential primary election.

“We don’t want people to feel comfortable about the success of the referendum. We don’t want to hear anyone say ‘My vote won’t matter.’ We need every vote,” said Tabitha Stine, a member of Citizens for Homewood Schools communications committee.

If the referendum fails, the administration will be forced to cut 20 certified staff which will increase class sizes, eliminate some services and reduce or eliminate specials, including art, music and daily physical education.

At an information session on Tuesday, parents said they would be upset if the district cut music. A long-time resident said the music and drama programs changed the lives of her now adult children.

“I can not, in good conscience, eliminate music and art without explaining the situation,” said Superintendent Dale Mitchell. He is restricted by law on public comment, which is why he joins members of Citizens for Homewood Schools at evening forums to present the message to the public.

 Information is available through two websites: www.hsd153.org and www.voteyes153.org

 

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