992/1000 = Opt-out vote

992/1000 = Opt-out vote Judy Zwolak, chairman of the Vermillion PTA's opt-out committee, presents the Vermillion School Board with pledge cards containing signatures of 992 citizens who support a property tax freeze opt-out to provide additional education funding. By David Lias Representatives of the local PTA approached the Vermillion School Board Monday with three thick stacks of yellow pledge cards, signed by 992 school district patrons.

Tom Craig, board president, had indicated last summer er mmer he would support the district attempting another opt-out of the state property tax freeze if PTA members could show that at least 1,000 people supported the idea.

The PTA may have been eight pledges short of that goal. But the school board couldn�t ignore their efforts.

It unanimously agreed to opt-out of the state property tax freeze by $800,000 annually for five years.

Residents of the school district will have thfinal say. Rather than letting citizens circulate petitions to refer the decision, board ms of the school district will have the final say. Rather than letting citizens circulate petitions to refer the decision, board members voted to put the issue to a public vote March 15.

If approved, the opt-out would begin with 2005 taxes payable in 2006. It would conclude with 2010 taxes payable in 2011.

Five committees � each chaired by a school board member � are simulataneously wld conclude with 2010 taxes payable in 2011.

Five committees � each chaired by a school board member are simulataneously wtate�s unwillingness to keep up with the rising costs of educating our children,� Judy Zwolak, chairman of the Vermillion PTA�s opt-out committee told the board. �Our representatives need to hear your thoughts on the matter, and must support a proposal by South Dakota school districts to raise the funding formula by 3 percent each year.�

Cutting an additional $350,000 from Vermillion�s budget, and the subsequent loss of staff and programs, she said, can�t help but have a negative effect.

The stacks of yellow pledge cards presented by the PTA Monday, �represent a group of Vermillion citizens who believe that investing in the Vermillion School District is investing in our community,� she said.

Zwolak noted that the board�s opt-out proposal was based on whathittling away at the district�s budget.

Should the opt-out fail, the general fund would plunge $350,000 in the red without the cuts.

�At the heart of the financial problems of our school district and in school districts throughout South Dakota is the sssignatures gathered as of Monday represent 62 percent more people than voted for the 2003 opt-out, and 14 percent more than voted against it. The PTA, she said, will hold forums, meet with civic groups, write letters and do whatever else is needed to help educate the public about the district�s financial woes.

�From my personal perspective, you�ve made my decision much easier with the hard work you�ve done and the response you�ve received from the community,� Craig said.

The PTA knows its work isn�t finished, she said. Zwolak told the board that efforts continue to identify people who support the opt-out.

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