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Educating without advocating

Dist. 1 officials continue discussing, talking about idea of 1 percent sales tax for schools

COAL CITY — During a study session Wednesday evening, the Coal City Community Unit School Dist. 1 discussed seeking further community input on a proposed sales tax to benefit county schools.

The 1 percent sales tax, which would be assessed on to all regularly taxed items, would be devoted to school building projects. Proponents say it would raise revenue for schools, while decreasing property taxes.

Superintendent Kent Bugg said at a study session last month that the board was still educating itself on the issue and that he would be seeking input from community members.

At Wednesday’s session, Bugg said he will continue to seek input from the community in presentations to various organizations.

“It’s about educating the public and making them aware of this,” Bugg said. “I’m not advocating for it. I’m just presenting it.”

Bugg said he met with the Grundy Economic Development Council board on the tax, and that organization expressed concern about the effect it would have on the county’s point of sale.

If the tax rate goes up, Bugg said, some point of sale could leave the county.

“That’s an issue we’ll have to address,” Bugg said.

Bugg said the GEDC plans to hold an informational session for local business owners, and that he plans on discussing the proposed tax with city councils in Coal City, Diamond and Carbon Hill.

Board Vice President Shawn Hamilton, said the board must discuss the plan with community members while emphasizing the board is not advocating the plan.

“I think it’s important we continue to engage the stakeholders in our community,” Hamilton said. “But we should be clear that it’s not us pushing the issue.”

Hamilton also suggested putting information on the district’s website.


In other business, Coal City High School Principal Mitch Hamann presented this year’s senior exit survey to the board.

According to Hamann, the survey saw high participation and had overall positive responses.

“The results, I thought, were really good,” Hamann said.

Hamann said 85 percent of seniors said they had a positive overall experience at CCHS and 91 percent described the learning environment as average or better.

“I thought that was very favorable,” Hamann said.

He also said that questions about the school’s use of technology and teacher quality yielded positive results.

“I think that shows we have a very strong staff,” Hamann said.

The survey did indicate some areas that could be improved on, according to Hamann.

When asked if counselors were helpful in course selection, 66 percent said yes and 34 percent said no.

“That I’d like to see get better,” Hamann said.

Thirty percent of students also faced “repeated harrassment” sometime during their time at CCHS, Hamann said.

“We’re going to really continue to work on that,” Hamann said. “That [30 percent] responded like that, that bothers me.”

Overall, though, Hamann said he was pleased with the senior’s responses to the survey.

“The results aren’t bad,” Hamann said. “But it’s still not where I’d like to be.”

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