Faced with aging school buildings, a group of Danville residents have banded together to push for a 1% sales tax that would fund facility improvements through the system.
The referendum will appear on the ballot in November for residents in Danville. Adding the 1% sales tax would generate revenue to pay for construction costs, a news release from the “Vote Yes 4 DPS” campaign said. The money will not go toward other things like salaries or supplies.
The tax will be for retail items bought in Danville, including online sales from sites like Amazon. In June, Danville City Council approved putting the question before voters.
“The blame game has run rampant,” said Kenny Lewis, co-chair of the campaign committee and executive director of Danville Church-Based Tutorial Program.
Lewis said many have complained about the current state of public education in the community.
“There are some changes that can only be made internally by DPS but other changes are dependent upon the community to make it happen,” Lewis said in the news release. “This tax increase is a prime example.”
Out of the 14 facilities in Danville Public Schools, nine were constructed prior to 1959. Although some upgrades have occurred over the last 20 years, no major additions or renovations have “moved the facilities from the 1950s to the 2000s,” the news release stated.
At George Washington High School, money from the sales tax would pay to renovate the classrooms to boost space and access to technology. It also would expand the library.
By renovating the campus at Langston — built in 1957 — school leaders hope to move Galileo Magnet High School to that location. In addition, the system’s central office, now renting a space on Main Street, could be housed on the Langston campus, the release stated.
“Our community is reimagining it’s future and improvement is now the trend, not the exception,” said Karl Stauber, campaign co-chair. “Look at the River District, the new YMCA, the Riverwalk Trail and the planned projects in Schoolfield and at the White Mill — there are investments in progress in the City of Danville,” he said.
There will be two items on November’s ballot concerning schools. The first will be to add a 1% sales tax. The second will authorize selling municipal bonds as a way to move “projects forward, faster at current construction costs,” the release stated.
If city voters approve both measures, the sales tax increase would enable the sale of bonds that would raise $141 million over the next 20 years, according to the campaign. That money would go toward school construction projects, including upgrades at elementary schools.
“It’s time for our school facilities to reflect that progress and for our community to make the decision to invest in excellence in our schools,” Sauber said in the release.
“A sales tax increase is not ideal but it’s the best option we have, and we need to use it,” Lewis said. “On the plus side, visitors coming through our area and to our area for local events that eat at our restaurants, buy gas and shop locally will contribute to this fund as well.”
To learn more, visit www.voteyes4dps.com.