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The group "Concerned Citizens of District 55" hosted a meeting at the Blackfoot Performing Arts Center Tuesday night to answer questions and share facts about the district's supplemental levy election on March 12. The group is strongly in favor of the levy and want to make sure that, in light of recent events within the district, that "the levy is not made into a political statement."
Rick Bigler, spokesperson for "Concerned Citizens of District 55" moderated the meeting, emphasizing that "the levy would be the only topic of discussion for the evening" and that "voting for the levy is one positive move that the patrons of District 55 can control."
Chris Cannon, chair of the district's financial committee, explained the history of the levy, saying that "it was started back in the early 90's, (for approximately $400,000) to help with the district's declining funds and a stressed budget. In 2005 voters opted to raise the levy to $995,000. In 2007 the levy was again raised and approved by voters for $1,975,000 and it has been renewed for that amount every two years, since." When the levy was renewed in 2009, it passed with 72 percent approval.
"Once again, the levy is up for renewal," Cannon stated. "We want people to understand that there will not be a tax increase, it [the levy] will be a continuation of what it has been since 2007. Voting 'yes' for the levy is voting for what the public has supported for several years."
Cannon said that the district would have liked to have increased the levy since 2007 but that economic conditions called for them to "hold steady."
Cannon said funding has decreased 11 percent this year and that money from the levy will go directly to help the students by funding teacher's salaries, technology in the classrooms and maintaining buildings so that students have a safe and comfortable learning environment.
Cannon stressed that the levy is needed because the district does not receive adequate funding from the state and that what little money that does come in - is allocated by the legislature. "It's the discretionary funds that are extremely hard to come by," he remarked.
In closing, Bigler stated that as a father of six children who have gone through the Blackfoot School District, that he "he has a great desire to see public education thrive."
"This is very important to me. I encourage everyone here to talk to your friends about this," he said.
Approximately 30 patrons showed up for the meeting with some expressing their disappointment in the lack of teachers and school board members there.