ADAMS TOWNSHIP — Flat state funding since fiscal year 2010, combined with not passing an operating levy in 30 years, have made Clinton-Massie delay or pass on capital projects, reduce staff and remove offerings for students, said the superintendent.
The school board is proposing a 0.5 percent (in other words, ½ of 1 percent) earned income tax rate for the purpose of current expenses. The tax question is on the Nov. 6 ballot for voters residing within the school district territory.
“This money is not for extravagance. It is certainly not for a stadium bleacher or lighting project; it is to stop cutting good people and useful programs,” Clinton-Massie Local Schools Superintendent Matt Baker told the Wilmington News Journal.
The Clinton-Massie school district has been “a good steward of the taxpayers’ money for decades,” said Baker.
He points to the district having cut $3.7 million in spending since fiscal year (FY) 2010.
“In order to continue our storied tradition of high academic achievement and strong student offerings, we are asking the taxpayers to increase their support through an earned income tax,” said the superintendent.
The earned income tax would not be levied upon retirement income (pensions), Social Security benefits, disability/survivor compensation, child support, unemployment compensation, welfare benefits, interest, dividends, or capital gains.
Under the proposed earnings tax, taxable earned income would include wages, salaries, tips, and other taxable employee pay. It also would include self-employment net income, including income from partnerships.
“We are a gold-rated, 5-star district when it comes to being audited by the state. We are spending money wisely and efficiently,” Baker said.
After noting that state funding has been flat since FY 2010, he told the News Journal that district officials do not predict an increase in the foreseeable future.
The earnings tax issue on the November ballot has a five-year term and then it would have to be renewed by voters or be removed. If passed, it would go into effect beginning New Year’s Day 2019.
“I went through a classroom the other day while the students were working on political cartoons. Two students stopped me to show their cartoons. These two students had chosen their subject matter to be the school district’s financial debt symbolized by a large weight hanging over a falcon mascot, the levy, and the possibility of losing programs like band and art.
“I thought to myself, ‘How sad.’ We have tried to shelter the students from this levy grind but it is being talked about in the public so much that they cannot help but react to the conversations,” said Baker.
“What are the reasons for passing the earnings tax? I can think of 1,800 of them who walk through our doors every day,” the superintendent concluded.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.