SHELBYVILLE — Administrators and board presidents of Shelby County school districts will meet this week to consider whether to push for a sales tax for education referendum on the April 2011 election ballot.
Shelbyville co-Superintendent Kevin Ross said the administrators and board presidents from Shelbyville, Okaw Valley, Windsor, Stewardson-Strasburg, Central A&M, Pana and Cowden-Herrick will meet Wednesday to discuss whether to ask the Shelby County Board to put the 1 percent sales tax referendum on the ballot.
“We need an alternative source of income,” Ross said.
Shelby County schools tried last year to pass the same referendum but failed, largely, Shelbyville school board members said, because of a poorly planned public information campaign.
“The planning last time was terrible,” Shelbyville board member Toby Koonce said. “If we’re going to do it, we’ve got to do it better.”
Shelbyville co-Superintendent Denise Bence said the districts should be prepared to show voters exactly where the money from the sales tax would be spent.
“Fire alarms, the heating systems, things like that,” she said. “We need to be very clear.”
Ross said it also would be important for voters to understand that many items are exempt from the education sales tax. Food, prescription drugs, cars and farm implements would not incur the additional tax under the plan.
Revenue from the additional tax would be distributed to school districts according to enrollment, and those districts would be required to use those funds only for facilities — new buildings, maintenance, energy-efficiency upgrades — or abatement of property taxes levied in the past to pay for facilities.
Schools representing 51 percent or more of the enrollment in Shelby County must approve the measure for it to be considered for the ballot by the county board.
“If we go ahead with this, we need to be sure we’re getting the message out to all the people that this is a good way of funding some of the things our schools need,” Ross said. “All we can do is tell the truth and then let the voters decide.”