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It’s time to rethink Gwinn schools sinking fund millage

Even though your wants and needs might be urgent, sometimes it’s better to stand back and wait a bit before pressing forward.

The Gwinn Area Community Schools Board of Education on Monday decided not to pursue asking for a sinking fund millage in the Nov. 5 election.

That’s a wise move. The March 10 election, we believe, would be a more prudent choice.

In the May and August elections, the school district asked voters to approve a millage of 1.75 mills for 10 years. That millage would have provided money for things such as school building improvements and technology upgrades.

Sinking fund money spent on those things would mean less money would come out of general fund money. Since the district is digging its way out of a deficit, money should go toward reducing that deficit and allowing educational programming to flourish.

Maybe not enough people understand this, or if they do, their personal financial situations don’t allow them to spend more on taxes.

GACS had produced a graph that shows the cost per day a homeowner would have to pay depending on the home’s market and taxable values.

For example, a home with a market value of $100,000 and a taxable value of $50,000 would mean the homeowner would pay $87.50 per year with a 1.75 mill. This translates to $7.29 per month or 24 cents per day.

Although some people can’t afford even that amount, many people, once they got used to it, wouldn’t miss that extra expense.

That said, since the millage request already failed twice this year, chances are good the third attempt wouldn’t succeed either.

It’s time to plan a strategy before district staff embarks on outreach efforts.

Staff can’t specifically promote a millage, but basic information can be disseminated, and perhaps a particularly good target audience would be senior citizens.

Granted, most of them don’t have kids in school, but likely they have grandkids. Even if they don’t, they should keep in mind the school system educates many kids, many of whom probably will end up living in the area after they graduate.

Those kids will have jobs and, hopefully, be good citizens, so it behooves the public to support them while they’re in school.

Holding informational sessions away from Gwinn High/Middle School — where the board typically meets — to reach new audiences is one possibility, as is creating an updated needs list. People need to know where their money will go.

Another point that could be driven home is that for many school districts, simply making do with the financial resources they have isn’t a good option anymore. Often the needs exceed their resources.

So, unless people expect GACS to reduce its needs, the resources need to be increased, and a sinking fund millage is one way to do that.

Perhaps the district can go for a smaller amount, or cut down on the number if years it could be levied.

There are many factors to consider, and we expect GACS staff and the school board will exercise due diligence on how to proceed.