Referendum important, but it's up to you to vote

Voters in the Indian River School District (IRSD) will have the opportunity to make their voices heard at the booths next week regarding a major capital improvement and current expense referendum.

The referendum proposes a property tax increase of 14.7 cents per $100 of assessed value. That, according to IRSD officials, equates to an annual tax increase of $38.05 for the average district property owner.

What will that raised money bring, if the referendum passes?

Well, officials say the funds will go to funding additional classrooms at six school buildings; the hiring of new teaching positions created by large increases in district enrollment; supplies, materials, furniture and technology for new classroms; and fuel and utility costs associated with the building expansion projects.

The referendum will consist of two seperate ballot questions — each with a very simple “For” or “Against” option for the voter.

The first question deals with the major capital improvements. Enrollment in the district has grown by 1,262 students since 2005, according to officials, and they feel this increase has led to staffing shortages and over-crowded classrooms.

The second question deals with current expense issues. This money would go to the local portion of salaries for new teaching positions, as well as increased expenses associated with the proposed building expansions. If approved, 38 new classrooms must be outfitted for use.

We are not in the business of telling our readers how to vote on anything — be it a referendum or political election. Instead, we believe it is our job to relay the facts and give people all the information they need to make an informed decision. And that will be the case again this time.

What we will do is remind voters that all-day kindergarten is also coming to the district, and that will be another big stress on classroom size. In the current situation, half the kids attend in the morning, and half in the afternoon. Eventually, they will all be in school at the same time, packing more children into classrooms than before. That being said, it does cost money, and it is your money.

The referendum will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 29, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. District residents who are U.S. citizens and at least 18 years old are eligible to vote.

Get out and make your voices heard. This is an important referendum, and you get to decide the outcome.