(BROWNSTOWN) - "Citizens for Responsible School Improvement" will begin circulating petitions this weekend opposing Brownstown Central Community School Corporation's proposed school renovation plans.
The Jackson County Banner reports that the estimated total cost of renovations to the elementary school, middle school, and high school is $24.7 million, which will be paid through the sale of bonds that would be paid off through higher property taxes.
According to a press release, the group is "opposed to spending a huge amount of money given our nation's poor economic state." It also stated that an increase in property taxes by the proposed amount on struggling citizens and businesses would be unacceptable.
Proposed renovation projects include upgrades to infrastructure, technology, and security at all three Brownstown Central school buildings.
Members of Citizens for Responsible School Improvement have asked the school corporation to do the projects in phases rather than all at once, as planned.
Sharon Yost of Freetown, says they asked the school to compromise and they didn't.
She says the proposed alternative plan from the group would fund all proposed security, technology, and new program upgrades for all three buildings. She says the group is not against technology and security, but there are things that need to be taken care of first - one of those the mold issue in the high school locker rooms.
The group's proposal also includes heating and air conditioning upgrades at the elementary and high schools, as well as renovations at all three buildings.
The group has petitions in all townships for people to sign. They will be available for signing from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturdays, Jan. 19 and Jan. 26, at the Freetown Community Center; from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, starting Monday, Jan. 21 and from 6 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Sundays at Denny's Grocery, on State Road 58 in Freetown.
Individuals who wish to carry a petition may pick them up at the county clerk's office at the courthouse beginning Friday, or at the Freetown Community Center at the times listed above. Petition forms must be on blue paper, not yellow. Signatures may be obtained from individuals, corporations, or business partnerships.
Any citizen may sign the petition, but only taxpayers and registered voters will be officially tallied. Signatures must be signed as legibly as possible; otherwise there is a risk of a signature being dismissed.
A group in favor of the proposed school renovation plans, "Now is the Time," also has petitions circulating throughout the community.
Carl Shake of Brownstown has been organizing efforts for this group and says he supports the renovations because the schools are not adequately prepared with updated technology or security to meet the needs of the students.
That petition drives began Thursday and end Monday, Feb. 18, after which the county auditor will begin certifying the signatures.
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