Mount Gilead parents consider the importance of .25 percent levy for permanent improvements

By Alberta Stojkovic

April 22, 2014

Jodi Hayes took a few minutes last Thursday to talk about why she supports the five year ¼ percent income tax levy for permanent improvements that will be on the ballot May 6th. Hayes is the mom of three recent Mount Gilead High School graduates and she has a fourth child who is still in High School.

When asked why she supports the levy she answered without hesitation, “It’s the future of our children. It’s very important to support the levy.”

Hayes said she has three children who went on to college. She believes that having the good education they got in Mount Gilead Schools “absolutely has made a difference” in how they have been able to do well in college. She wants to see that continue for her youngest son who is still in Mount Gilead High School and for other children in Mount Gilead.

“If they don’t get the proper education, it’s harder for them to succeed,” Hayes added.

Erin Kelty is a parent of children at Park Ave. Elementary School in Mount Gilead. She is also the chairman of the levy committee. She noted that one of the important things that will be funded by the ¼ percent levy is the replacement and repair of buses. Her children ride the bus and she said there are many of the buses that are more than ten years old and need to be replaced or repaired. There is also a leaky roof at Park Ave. School that needs repair and student technology also needs updated.

These are some of the ways that the monies will be used. Kelty said that without the passage of the levy, money for buses, roof repairs, and other permanent improvements will have to come from the general fund. The general fund is what is used to pay teachers and most of the student services and operation of the schools. That would make a real impact on the quality of education.

Mount Gilead School Superintendent, Jeff Thompson was appreciative of parents’ support. He said it also “needs to be conveyed that services to children in Mount Gilead have already been reduced. This is a levy that is truly needed.”

Thompson said the board had work sessions to review the district’s financial position. They decided to place this five year ¼ percent levy for permanent improvements on the ballot along with making additional cuts and reductions in 2013 and 2014 of $310,000. That was in addition to $733,000 in cuts and reductions in 2012. Much of the attrition was due to the retirement of teachers and staff that weren’t replaced. Since 2004 the administration and board has reduced and not replaced about $2,018,286.

Thompson has been in the district almost two years and he is very appreciative of the responsibility and stewardship of the school board, principals, teachers and staff. He pointed to the district newsletter that notes the cost to educate a student in Mount Gilead is $7,242 per year. That compares very favorably to the state average of $8,947 and the Morrow County average of $8,089.

“Our school board and administrators are trying to do more with less,” Kelty said. “And even with less our schools have been rated ‘Excellent’. The administrators have been challenged in operating on a shoestring.”

Kelty, who is Manager for First-Knox National Bank in Mount Gilead, added, “As a business person, I know that when there are good schools, they bring good business and good residents.”

Supt. Thompson welcomes parents and citizens to visit his office or to view the Treasurer’s web page if there are any questions or comments.