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Akron school board vice president opposes Issue 17

By John Published: September 28, 2010

      Akron school board vice president Jason Haas, speaking for himself only, told the board Monday night in public session that he will vote against Issue 17.
     That's the charter amendment that would divert about $13 million in income tax revenue currently devoted to the school construction project to safety forces over the next three years.
     The city now wants voters to approve the diversion of a third of the income from that tax increase for safety forces for three years, adding five years at the end of the collection period.
     Superintendent David James said when the proposal was announced that he didn't foresee the diversion affecting the building schedule.
     However, Haas said that no one he's talked to sees it that way.
     ''In the days following the announcement of this ballot issue, several dozen people reached out to me by email, by phone calls, by stalking me wherever they could find me in town,'' Haas said. ''Not one, not a single person, was in favor of the proposal. The most common complaint was simple: 'I voted for new schools, not this.' I echo that sentiment. I too voted for new schools.''
     Haas said the proposal puts the district in a difficult position.
     ''While it's true that voters have a chance to vote up or down on this issue, it's bothering those that I've talked to that it's even being put to a vote,'' Haas said. ''They believe a trust has been broken because in the 2003 campaign, we said this money would never be used for anything but school construction. And yet here we are, seven years later, discussing that very thing.''
     He said he understands that local governments are in a bind because of decreased tax revenues.
     ''But I wish this ballot issue wasn't being held up as a temporary or permanent solution to an economic problem,'' He said. ''This proposal puts APS in a bad spot by having to explain a baffling financial system and looking like we support breaking a campaign promise. It's for those reasons, when I vote, I will not be supporting Issue 17.''

This was also posted at the Akron Beacon Journal education blog, First Bell.

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