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East Palestine school board to try levy again

EAST PALESTINE — When the .5 percent earned income tax increase failed on Election Day, the board of education had to face the reality of making some difficult decisions.

The board took its first step forward at Monday’s meeting when it proposed the first resolution to submit the issue once again for the ballot in May.

Prior to the November vote, Superintendent Chris Neifer held a state of the schools speech to inform the community of the need for the tax to pass, but it wasn’t enough. Neifer’s plan this time around is to take a similar approach.

“I don’t think our strategy will change much,” Neifer said. “We’re going to continue to educate people, but the information is what it is. We’re just trying to inform people about where we are and why we need additional funding.”

More so than what they tell the community, Neifer said they may change how they deliver the message. He said this time, they may be a little more strategic as to where they give the information out.

The board didn’t have many routes to explore, so Neifer said trying to get additional revenue is still the best option.

“There really aren’t many other options,” Neifer said. “You either make cuts or find additional revenue. We’ve made cuts, and the next round of cuts are going to hurt.”

Because of how close the vote was on Election Day, Neifer and the board think that putting it back on the ballot is the best approach. About 48 percent of the voters were for the issue.

“Looking at how close we were to passing it last time, we think that there is enough support from the voters to push it through,” Neifer said.

Neifer believes that this is the district’s last chance to pass the issue before significant cuts in staffing, programming and transportation take place. Since the money would have helped fund various programs, Neifer said it will be hard for the district to continue to grow without funds.

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