VIENNA - The president of Mathews School Board of Education said he hopes voters in his district are willing to express their concerns to school officials and explain their reasons for voting down a request for a 2-mill permanent improvement levy.
After reviewing incomplete unofficial results of Tuesday's general election, Dr. Kenneth Wallace said the school district has a lot of tough decisions ahead of it - including where and how to make necessary cuts to keep the district from deficit spending and depleting its reserve funds.
Of 2,983 votes counted Tuesday night, 1,712, or 57.39 percent went against the levy, while 1,271, or 42.61 percent supported it.
Mathews School officials were trying to wait patiently, but anticipation was getting the best of them by 11 p.m. Tuesday, as election results remained at a standstill. For most of the evening the race was too close to call with only 25 percent of the precincts reporting.
At that time, the issue was failing by a slim margin. The school district had asked voters to approve a 2-mill permanent improvement levy officials said is needed to help keep the district from deficit spending and depleting all of its reserve money.
Based on incomplete unofficial results, the levy appeared to lack enough support. However, even then it was too hard to call with 43.66 of the voters counted being in favor of the levy and 56.34 percent against it.
Mathews special board meeting
WHEN: 6 p.m. today
WHERE: Mathews High School
WHAT: Discuss district finances
''It's hard,'' Wallace said. ''We'd like to know what's going on and how we'll be able to proceed, move forward, as a district. We have a lot of decisions to make, and it would help to know the result of this. There's really nothing to say right now. All we can do is wait and see.''
The school board has scheduled a special meeting for tonight to discuss the district's financial options and how it will be impacted by the levy. Much of that talk likely will be based on results of the levy request included in Tuesday's general election.
The 2-mill, five-year permanent improvement levy is being requested to help pay for renovations at Mathews High School. The levy would generate more than $307,000 a year for the district.
The school district is looking at a proposal, presented to the school board by superintendent Lee Seiple that calls for eliminating positions, increasing student fees and cutting expenses.
Wallace said many of the decisions the school board is facing could greatly be impacted by whether voters approved the levy.
Treasurer Teri Andrika has said the school district has more money going out than coming in and has to pull money from its reserve funds. She said she's concerned that eventually the district could run out of money and deplete its reserve funds unless it can cut spending or generate more income.
According to her estimates, expenditures could exceed revenue by close to $650,000 by the end of the 2010-11 school year and by more than $726,000 in 2012.
''This will definitely make our job a lot more difficult,'' Wallace remarked in response to the results. ''I really didn't expect this. I just hope that the people who elected to vote can do more than vote and give us an opportunity to hear what their concerns are.
''We have a lot to be proud of. It's hard to view this as anything other than people not seeing the value of having a quality school district. It definitely will impact how we go about making our decisions,'' he said.