The Miami School District launched its campaign Tuesday to promote a $4.19 million bond issue set for a Nov. 13 ballot.
School superintendent Bill Stephens presented the proposed 7.43-mill property tax levy to a group of early morning risers who attended a political breakfast forum hosted by the Miami Area Chamber of Commerce.
If passed, the bond issue would fund construction of an 1,800-seat gymnasium suitable for competitive events, a band room, a choral room, an art room, a lecture hall and two conference rooms in a single building planned for construction at the district's high school.
Stephens noted that the proposed bond would raise the district's 4.3-mill property tax to 12.8 mills - a figure he said is still below the -, 14-, 15- and 16-mill” levies being assessed in area districts.
The increase, if approved by a super-majority - 60 percent - of voters in the district, would raise property taxes an estimated $2 to $3 a month.
“It is important that we get a large number of people out to vote,” Stephens said as he explained that common education bond issues cannot be passed by a simple majority.
“It takes 60 percent of the vote,” Stephens said. “That may not sound like that many but, for every two ‘no' votes you have, you have to get three ‘yes' votes in order for it to pass.”
The district is supplemented by state dollars to assist in the operation of the school, according to Stephens. Through the existing millage, the district contributes about 15 percent of the operational costs. However, the cost of constructing a school facility must be fully funded by local efforts.
“We have an opportunity for our schools to really step forward. I am proud of what has been done here in seven years,” Stephens said. “We have really invested in our schools the very maximum that we can without a bond issue.”
It has been three years since the district put a bond issue before its residents. Voters approved a $1.3 million bond issued in 2004 to improve the district's elementary schools.
“I hear people say ‘it is something that has been needed for a long time,'” Stephens said. “My question is - are they willing to pay for it? When it comes to the local funding of the school it is a local issue and a local responsibility.”