On the ballot May 8 will be the school levy ballot measure.
If you vote yes, the school levy will stay in place – delivering $4 million to the Morgan County schools to pay for staff and textbooks.
Vote no and cut the school budget from $27 million to $23 million a year.
Erich May says – vote yes on the levy.
May is the new Superintendent of the Morgan County Schools.
“Our hope is that this work stoppage over the last month has brought more attention to the importance of faculty and staff and the importance of the work they are doing day in and day out – educating kids, transporting kids, feeding kids,” May told Russell Mokhiber host of This Week in Morgan County. “It is a noble profession. They deserve the benefits and pay that they received for that work stoppage. But they need to be funded at the current level here in Morgan County for us to continue to provide a high quality education. To keep doing what we are doing, we need to keep getting this current level of funding. We need everyone to come out and vote yes for the levy.”
“We are not asking for an increase,” May said. “We are asking to keep it the same.
We are asking to keep it at the same rate at which it passed last time. We are asking for four more years at the same funding level. We are providing a high quality of education and a real bargain to the people of Morgan County. We are spending less per student than they are spending in neighboring states. Our students are well cared for and well served by the six schools here in Morgan County.”
“On standardized test scores have improved in some ways over the last couple of years. There is room for growth in our scores, but our people are doing a good job in identifying areas of weakness.”
Why did May close the schools during the teachers’ strike?
“We closed schools because so many of our faculty and staff were committed to joining the work stoppage that I could not open schools with confidence that we would have sufficient faculty and staff to supervise our students,” May said. “You can’t open schools unless you can get kids to school. If half of your bus drivers aren’t coming to work, then you can’t make it. And you can’t have school and not feed students breakfast and lunch. That’s required by law. If half of your cooks are not coming to work then you can’t make it happen.”
“I was just making common sense decisions in real time on a day to day basis. We can’t staff school tomorrow so we will be closed again. And people got robocalls from us night after night, until finally the situation was resolved by an action of the legislature and with the leadership of the Governor.”
Were the superintendents unified?
“As the work stoppage continued, it became more and more clear that there were advantages to maintaining a unified front,” May said. “Certainly it was beneficial to the faculty and staff and to the unions to be 55 united. But at some point it became beneficial to the superintendents and the school boards to be 55 strong.”
“By closing school, we kept everyone on the same page. And then we returned to school, we are all on the same page. Maintaining that united front, not only within the state but within the county and within the schools, that is really what is best for kids.”
“I have to worry that people will say – they got their five percent raise from the state. They don’t need our support. But the raise is an increase in the base pay. It doesn’t change the fact that our levy pays for a supplement for staff and pays for more than 20 faculty and staff whose salaries and benefits come entirely from the excess levy.”
“Morgan County education is a real bargain. It’s a high quality education considering what people are spending on it. This vote is a vote for or against education. If you favor education, then you should be willing to pitch in on it.”
“We are in a good place now,” May said. “Our approach is moderate. We are asking people for the same level of support as the last four years. That’s a moderate approach. We are not asking for an increase. We are asking people to keep it the same. We need to because education is more important than ever.”
In 2013, in a shock to the school establishment in Morgan County, an increase in the levy was defeated by a vote of 1,674 (56 percent) to 1,329 (44 percent).
In 2014, the board scaled back the levy to the current level and it passed by a vote of 2,750 (54 percent) to 2,350 (46 percent).