The Smyrna School District has scheduled a public meeting for Wednesday, Feb. 5 to give residents a chance to ask questions and receive information on the upcoming major capital improvement and current expense referendum.

The information session on the referendum will be at Smyrna Elementary School from 7 to 8 p.m.

Superintendent Debbie Wicks said administrators will do a PowerPoint presentation on the referendum; residents can see a copy of the presentation in the latest issue of the Smyrna Messenger or online at the district website.

Once the presentation is complete, Wicks said administrators and the school board will discuss the needs assessment that was done last summer, look at the sample ballots and answer questions.

"We'll have it at Smyrna Elementary, where we have the greatest issues. These issues are similar to others schools," Wicks said. "But the greatest need is at Smyrna Elementary."

Wicks said residents will get a first-hand glimpse of the issues that need to be addressed at the school. Other buildings in need of renovations are Clayton Elementary, North Smyrna Elementary, John Bassett Moore Intermediate School, and the Thomas D. Clayton Building.

The schools need renovations for accessibility issues, cafeteria renovations, plumbing and electrical upgrades, new HVAC systems and more.

The major capital improvements referendum cost totals $4.8 million for the district, which is 33 percent of the total $14 million cost; the state will pick up the remaining cost. The increase in the annual local school taxes for the average property with a market value of $200,000 will be approximately $6.99 in the first year, $27.38 in the second year, $26.59 in the third year with rates decreasing each year.

The current expense referendum is needed to continue operating the district as it currently is.

"We are very dependent on state funding and the state funding has been going down each year yet we're still expected to do the same job we've always done," Wicks said.

The current expense referendum will enable the district to cover expenses for school security and student safety measures, the alignment of curriculum and staff training, computer maintenance, student support specialists, band instrument and music replacements, meeting the demands of continued student growth and more.

The current expense referendum is for $1.5 million; in the last five years the district has received $1.2 million less in state funding. The increase in annual local school taxes for the average property with a market value of $200,000 is about $85.

Therefore, the total first-year impact of the tax increases would be about $92 for residents.

"We have a low tax rate. We have the third lowest in the state and even with this [increase] it will make us the fourth lowest," Wicks said.

Referendum Feb. 22

The referendum will take place on Saturday, Feb. 22 during I Love Smyrna School District Day at Smyrna High School.

Should the referendum fail, Wicks said the district would quite simply have to do the referendum again until it passes because the district can't operate in a deficit.

"It would affect personnel," Wicks said. "If you have to cut, that's what you have to cut is personnel. When you cut personnel your class size goes up."