Bloomington Townspeople Rally for the Referendum

Sydney Piercy, Reporter

The small lawn on the south side of the beautiful limestone building that is Bloomington’s courthouse was crowded. There was a band performing, made up of 12 year olds with drums and trumpets. People of all ages stood on their tiptoes to see over the signs being held in the air. Third graders spoke to the crowds as they chanted “Vote Yes to the referendum!”

Parents, students, teachers, administrators, and townspeople of Bloomington gathered at the Courthouse Lawn at six p.m. Tuesday Sept 6th to rally for the continuation of a local MCCSC referendum concerning school programs and property taxes.  

In 2009 in Monroe County there were major spending cuts made inside the education system, causing stress and hardship as schools and administrations struggled to find the best places to cut back. But when it comes to students, is there a best place to cut back?  With this new budget it seemed that many extra-curricular programs were going to be cut including programs involving music and art, and teachers’ salaries were going to decrease. However, in 2010 a referendum was introduced granting a certain amount of local property taxes to go back into the schools. This saved schools from having to lose vital programs, and saved teachers from detrimental pay cuts.

This November, during the local elections, there will be a question on the bottom of the ballet to renew this referendum; a referendum that has almost undebatably been full of positive new opportunities that has improved and enhanced the school system in Monroe County.

There are a great number of MCCSC employees and town citizens that support this referendum whole-heartedly. These are the people that organize and attend events such as the rally on Sept. 6th.

The rally to renew the referendum was full of energy and passion. It was a courthouse full of people who care deeply about education and are willing to take the extra step and raise awareness to make sure this referendum has the best chance possible to be passed. They rallied on the courthouse lawn, holding signs saying things such as, “Education matters most!” Elementary students from various schools talked about their favorite subjects and teachers, and middle schoolers shared how the referendum has positively affected their school and learning experience. After her speech, 8th grader from Batchelor Middle School, Vivanne Hill, said “My teacher volunteered me and I thought it was a great opportunity. I didn’t know most of them so I was a little nervous, but it was great to talk about such a great cause.”

Hill spoke about how she had the opportunity to get ahead in Math, and how much her teachers helped and supported her along the way when it got difficult. Even though she was a little nervous talking to a large crowd, she was happy to do it.

Aside from the academic and extracurricular programs this referendum funds, the biggest chunk of the money, around 90 percent, is directed to staff salary. And while some may argue that this money goes to the teachers when it goes to the children, supporters of the referendum believe that having well paid teachers directly correlates to the well being of the students. Teachers, (especially elementary)  buy the majority of non essential materials and resources to enhance their classes out of pocket.

 Superintendent Judy Demuth commented on the importance of this referendum.

It Supports many opportunities that we’re able to apply for our schools both inside and outside of the classroom. Over 90 percent of the funds pay for staff. It’s incredibly important to pass this referendum to continue all these great programs.”  

 The most important take away from the rally, and from all the events that are still to come supporting the referendum, is that it is vitally important to go to the polls, go to the bottom of the ballot, and vote.

 Whether the rally was effective or not will not be truly determined until November. But the supporters of this referendum will not stop raising awareness, and fighting for better education.