Parents, volunteers call voters hours before school tax referendum

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DECATUR TOWNSHIP – Teachers, parents and school administrators are holding their breath just hours before a vote on a property tax hike in Decatur Township.

The school system’s asking for more money, and the alternative could be serious cuts to program and staff.

The school district said it’s $2.5 million dollars short this year and lays the blame at statewide property tax caps.

Administrators say the district’s cut $12 million since 2010, and if voters approve the hike, it would bring in $3.85 million a year for the next seven years.

Monday night the political action committee formed in Decatur Township in favor of the tax increase spent the evening working for support until the end.

The political signs in Decatur Township aren’t hard to pick out. Neither is Susan Phillips’ truck.

“I just thought of it this morning, my last-ditch effort,” she said.

The green paint on her truck shows Tuesday’s date, May. You can guess where she stands on the tax referendum.

“I feel as being part of the community, it’s my duty to help take care of anything to do with the kids,” she said.

That’s why Phillips spent her Monday night phone banking along with other parents. She’s giving a ring to voters to tell them what’s at stake.

“We’re concerned about the people who will come to the polls without knowledge of the question,” said Gregg West with Citizens for Decatur Township Schools.

The MSD of Decatur Township is asking voters to approve a property tax hike for the next seven years. If it passes, the district estimates the average homeowner would pay almost $7 a month more in taxes.

The alternative could be painful, with administrators vowing to close schools, layoff teachers and cut programs.

“I just feel like it’s always squeeze, squeeze, squeeze the taxpayer,” said Rick Tidd.

Tidd’s on the fence the night before the election. He said he wants the best for the schools but isn’t sure how he will vote.

“It’s a serious matter,” said Tidd.

At least Monday night, voters could count on people like Susan Phillips to try some convincing.

“Our kids are counting on you,” said Phillips, during one of her phone calls.

Two other districts, Eminence Community School Corporation in Morgan County and Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation in Hancock County, have similar questions on the ballot Tuesday.

The superintendent of Decatur Township schools tells FOX59 his team’s already gone over a list of cuts that will happen if the referendum doesn’t pass.