District hopes 1% sales tax can save schools

By Alex Davis | adavis@wcia.com

Published 03/11 2014 05:33PM

Updated 03/12 2014 11:55AM

Update: 10:05 pm
SHELBY COUNTY -- Schools here need some costly repairs. WCIA-3's Alex Davis reports a 1% sales tax could solve the problem.

For David Young, the Shelbyville schools of his childhood are far from what they are today.

"Schools are the cohesive glue that holds a community together and gives you a sense of identity."

Students study in hallways and fire escapes converted to classrooms. Kindergarteners are housed at the high school and boilers could fail at any moment. His love for Shelbyville is why he's urging voters to take up a 1% sales tax.

"Those who are against this, entirely think that these schools just grow up out of the ground, that you don't have to take care of them and that these things will take care of themselves. Well, they won't."

Twice now, voters have defeated it.

"Why would anyone oppose it? The only thing I can think of is that is has to have the name 'tax.'"

But Young and others say this is their last hope since the condition of their schools is so bad.

"We really do have facilities that have served us well over the generations, but there comes a certain point when, just like owning a home, you have to make updates, you have to make upgrades and we're at that point."

State aid isn't expected to improve any time soon. The new state budget blueprint shows schools could lose $1 billion more next fiscal year.

"The last three years, the state has not been able to meet its obligation for the foundation level which is a minimum level that each student should get."

That very reason is why Shelbyville CUSD wants to add this 1% sales tax. Voters make the decision Tuesday. If they say "yes" to the tax, the money could only be used for school facilities.
Original: 6:03 pm
SHELBY COUNTY -- Leaky roofs, asbestos containment and cramped quarters are just some of the distractions students in this district face each day. But some education officials hope a 1% sales tax referendum could change the condition of their schools.

The problems could actually be stemming from a larger education funding problem. School districts statewide are facing budget cuts as the state continues to reduce aid.

That's why school districts, such as Shelbyville CUSD are looking for ways to bring in revenue in other forms, such as sales tax. Those calling for this say the County School Facility Occupation Tax (CSFT) would be used exclusively for "school facility purposes," and would not exceed 1%.

Supporters say it would be a way to fund much-needed repairs on run-down buildings. The CSFT would tax non-essential goods only, so things like groceries, prescriptions and cars could not be taxed.

That measure will be on the March 18 ballot. The measure has failed twice before; once in 2010, a second time in 2011.

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