Thursday, November 10, 2016

Kentucky weekly helps pass tax to help schools

A weekly newspaper in Central Kentucky led the charge to pass a tax that will fund much-needed renovations at local schools. More than 54 percent of voters in Marion County, Kentucky, voted in favor of the recallable nickel (5 cents per $100 of property valuation, subject to a petition and referendum) which with matching state funds, will give Marion County Public Schools about $30 million for renovations. In 2008, 58 percent voting against an identical proposal.

Lebanon, Ky. (Best Places map)
The Lebanon Enterprise did several stories on the issue in a sample-copy edition sent to all addresses in the county. The schools sponsored the extra printing and postage with $1,500, but Publisher Stevie Lowery said the edition would have run with or without the schools sponsorship. Lowery said the schools have sponsored previous countywide editions.

For one story, fourth and fifth graders were asked, "If you were granted three wishes for your school, what would they be?" Lowery reported that the majority asked for practical things, such as more bathrooms. Lebanon Elementary School has four bathrooms—two for girls, two for boys—for 400 students.

At Lebanon and Calvary elementaries, where one room serves as gyms cafeterias and auditorium, students said they wanted separate facilities for the three functions, Lowery wrote. There was also concern about crowded classrooms, no music or art rooms, or science or computer labs, bigger libraries, and a separate place at Calvary for the nurse, who currently shares a space on a stage where music is taught. Lowery also supported the cause with editorials and kept up an active conversation on the newspaper's Facebook page.

The Enterprise has long been owned by Shelbyville-based Landmark Community Newspapers, a company that sets standards but allows editorial autonomy. Lowery has a son in school and is a daughter of the late Steve Lowery, who edited the paper in the 1980s.

UPDATE, Nov. 18: An Enterprise employee reports on a congratulatory call from a subscriber.

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