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Jefferson schools superintendent reacts to rejected levy

Jefferson schools superintendent reacts to rejected levy

RIGBY, Idaho - An eastern Idaho school district is forced to resort to "Plan B" after voters decided against a two-year, $2 million supplemental levy for Jefferson County School District 251.

"You start looking at really drastically changing the face of education," said Superintendent Ron Tolman during an interview last December, when his district was facing a million-dollar deficit.

Tolman turned to taxpayers for help, and the taxpayers said "no." They voted 1,946 against and 797 for the levy.

"We put a lot of money into our schools and our teachers are still complaining," said Chuck Summers, a Jefferson County resident who did not support the levy.

"I'm sure they can teach our kids and just do other ways instead of changing taxes," said Dustin Dortch, another resident against the levy.

The only people our news crew found who supported the levy had ties to the school district.

"It's disappointing," said Jeff Pulsipher, a school administrator who supported the levy. "Who's going to feel it is the kids and the staff."

"I think schools should work within their budget and do the best they can, but I also realize things can happen that can put out exceptions," said Mike Evans, a substitute teacher who also supported the levy.

"The way I look at it is folks are struggling in a lot of ways, and another new tax which is difficult for them to accept," Tolman said Wednesday.

Tolman now has some tough decisions to make.

"That's the way it is," he said. "We're just committed to do whatever we can with a positive attitude to carry on education."

Tolman said the district is considering getting rid of librarians in elementary schools, reducing custodial services, increasing class sizes, losing support programs including Achieve3000 and Accelerated Reader, and cutting teacher salaries and benefits.

The new budget is still being worked on.

The proposed levy would not have added any expenses to the school district.  It just would have kept things the same for the next two years.

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