Alexander Plays The Waiting Game After Election Night

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ALBANY — After three previous attempts failed, the Alexander School Districts operating levy came closer to success in unofficial numbers on Tuesday, with less than 50 votes standing in the way of a win.

Absentee and provisional vote counts will not be made official for another week, so the district will again have to wait and see the fate of their funding.

The income tax levy was being defeated in Athens County as of Tuesday night with 1,301 votes against and 1,259 for it. But final results will also include those from Meigs and Vinton counties, parts of which are included in the Alexander district.

Superintendent Lindy Douglas was closely watching the results with a group of teachers and levy supporters at Jackie O’s on Tuesday night. She said she was very appreciative of those that have fought for the measure thus far.

“They’ve made a tremendous difference, and hopefully this swings in our favor,” Douglas said.

Teachers that gathered to watch the results said they were hopeful that the results weren’t a definite no, but they intended to continue fighting if the levy is defeated again.

“I think without education we have nothing, it’s what allows students to become productive members of society, and give back to the community and provide for themselves and their families,” said Hannah Charbel, a Spanish teacher at Alexander High School.

Malinda Mowry, an English teacher and Alexander mom, fears the next programs to go will be industrial arts and the Future Farmers of America program if the levy fails. She said these programs are vital to the rural area.

“At this point, we’ve really cut basically everything that we can, we’ve trimmed all the fat, so there’s not a lot that can be trimmed beyond this.”

The levy is a five-year tax of 1 percent in the district.

The district said it had no choice but to bring it back to the ballot after it failed in November.

“No one likes to pay more taxes,” said Board of Education President Fred Davis. “But in this state that’s the way schools are funded and we have very little choice. We don’t sell a product, we can’t raise our prices and recoup costs.”

The levy would “bridge the gap between what the state and federal governments pay and the actual cost of operating the school,” according to documents about the levy on the Alexander Schools webpage.

Those expenses include staffing, textbooks, equipment, food service, transportation, fuel, maintenance and repairs.

With past failures of the levy, the school has cut staff through attrition — meaning not rehiring for positions that become vacant — and used an “energy conservation project” in 2009 to cut natural gas and electric costs to save money, according to the district.

The district estimated its running deficit would grow to more than $1.8 million in four years if the levy fails.

Failure of Tuesday’s levy would mean more budget cuts, including the introduction of classroom fees and “pay-to-play” or fees for extracurriculars.