ROSEBURG Ore. (KMTR) - A levy proposal could save the Roseburg School District from closing an elementary school in the fall.
Firm Ground, a citizens group committed to keeping all schools open, presented a levy proposal to the Board Wednesday night. The group proposed a $6 million option option levy which, if the board passes, would go on May's ballot. The five-year levy would add an average of $3.50 per month per household tax in Roseburg.
The Board says if Roseburg voters pass the levy, all schools could stay open for the time being. However, board members say they cannot make any promises to keep all schools open in the future, especially if they face more budget cuts.
The Board's Bond Council is working on re-writing Firm Ground's proposal. The School Board will meet on March 20 to discuss the final version of the levy proposal. If members pass it, the Board will file the levy on March 21.
Some voters are concerned about the cost to file a levy.
The Douglas County Elections office says the district spent approximately $9,000 in 2011 to file for seven different candidates to run. The office says it is difficult to know until after the election how much it will cost the district to file for a levy and candidates this year.
Firm Ground says the cost of filing a levy is well-spent if the levy passes. Laurie Way, Chair of Firm Ground, argues that shutting down schools would affect the entire community and its economy.
"A primary factor in people choosing communities is schools," said Way. "If you start shutting down schools, people are going to start leaving."
The National Education Association released a study in 2004 saying property values increase if they are near a successful school. The study says that there is "a positive correlation between the quality of local K-12 education and the value of homes in that neighborhood".
Way argues that if a school closes, especially Green or Melrose Elementary in rural communities, property values will decline. She says families might be less likely to move to areas without a school, especially if they have children. She worries that if an area loses its quality of life attraction, the economy might see a declining trend in the long run.
If the School Board files the levy, members worry that waiting until the May results poses a problem if the levy does not pass. Members agree they should proceed with selecting one school that would close in the event the levy fails.
The current schools up for closure include Fir Grove, Green, Melrose and Rose Elementary.