QUINCY (WGEM) — The Quincy Board of Education's Finance Committee met Monday morning to discuss putting a 53-cent referendum on the March 17 ballot that would generate an expected $5.3 million in additional revenue.
Quincy School District Finance Chairman Richard McNay said that revenue would be spent on needs throughout all the schools in the district.
Some of those needs include new technology hardware and software systems in eight schools. He said the 53-cent increase would allow the district to put Windows laptops in all elementary schools.
"We're trying to improve our educational system with the new revenue," McNay said. "We want to provide technology in schools, which we don't have now. We want to add some people to our staff to deal with special needs students."
Superintendent Roy Webb said that money will help improve education, including adding more technology in classrooms.
"We feel like we need to be about two computers per every three children," Webb said. "If we get that, then teachers don't have to sign up and wait for computers. They'll always be at access when teachers need them for their instruction."
Webb said the additional funds would also allow them to add more staff members to help students with special needs.
"We're going to be able to meet the needs of some real high needs kids, either emotionally disturbed kids, or kids that have even more needs that we're not able to handle," Webb said.
McNay said the additional $5.3 million would also allow them to offset the mandated minimum wage hike for teachers and staff that's being implemented over the next few years.
"We know of no other way to get the revenue," McNay said. "We can't depend on the state of Illinois. They're not funding our schools 100%. If they were, we would not need to go out for a referendum."
McNay said he's hopeful that these additional funds would also allow them to retain teachers, as it costs more to hire and train a new teacher than it does to keep a veteran teacher.
If approved, the ballot will be placed on the March 17 ballot.
McNay also stated that the Quincy School District sits at the lowest of 49 area school districts for its educational fund tax rate, at $1.84.
McNay said even with the proposed increase, Quincy still would have among the lowest education fund tax rates for districts its size.
"We hope they understand our need," McNay said. "We've been locked in at 1.84 cents since 1988 for 32 years now with no increases. We feel that if we can explain to them, the importance of this need, hopefully, they will take it and support us."
The school board will vote to place the referendum on the ballot at Wednesday night's board meeting.
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