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Across the country, state governments, municipalities and local school districts are in financial crisis. Our community is no exception. The Hall County school district general fund is operating this fiscal year on almost $20 million less than it did just two years ago. More than $16 million of that comes in the form of an "austerity cut" to state revenue.
I would note that the system is also serving 200 more students than it did just two years ago. Salaries have been cut across the board, students are going to school fewer hours and difficult, but necessary, cost saving decisions such as adopting a high school seven-period day have become reality.
In spite of tough times, the system moves forward. It has developed eight charter schools, numerous additional programs of choice and implemented cloud computing and video conferencing at all campuses. Programs are sharing teachers via video conferencing and a more efficient and powerful blended learning environment is being developed by our teachers and leaders.
It is my hope, as both a father and grandfather, that our community will recognize that this is not the time to discontinue the penny sales tax SPLOST for education. Necessary and significant expenditures for repairing aging facilities, paying off long term bond debts and providing our children with classroom technology cannot be ignored.
Fiscal conservatism should reign when it comes to public organizations and taxpayers' money. Our local E-SPLOST is a rare example of that principle in action. Please consider voting yes for extending SPLOST on Tuesday.