MONTGOMERY, IND. (WTHI) - One of the Wabash Valley's smallest public school systems gets a giant vote of support from its patrons.
Residents voted four to one in favor of a referendum proposal that will give the Barr-Reeve School system an extra one million dollars a year to operate.
School officials say the money will not only off-set cuts the school system has sustained from the state, but also help develop new and better programs in the future.
The Barr-Reeve School facilities aren't fancy, but they are functional.
The school system with 740 kids though, has been facing some tough financial times.
Cuts in state support for small schools like this ate away the rainy day fund and finally left them with a tough choice.
The school system asked the community to add a 35-cent tax to help with funding.
Voters approved it by a landslide.
"We felt like it was a good result, not only for us, but it was obviously positive for our school and our community as a whole," said Barr-Reeve Superintendent, Travis Madison.
The new money won't go to the facilities but instead will focus on programs for the kids.
"It will enable us to keep the programs we have," explained Madison. "But also, as we meet new challenges and have new things we have to look as as a corporation it will allow us to remain competitive and put our best foot forward."
Barr-Reeve has been under the financial gun for several years.
Between changes in the state funding formula and the elimination of small school grants the school system is now operating under the same amount of revenue it had 12 years ago.
There had even been some discussions of consolidating with other schools in the area.
Officials say they believe this vote was the community's way of saying we like what we have.
"They said loud and clear they think we are doing a pretty good job and we've got things working in the right direction," said Madison. "Even though there may be some things that put us in a financial situation where we had to take some other options, we put that out there. They realized it's a small price to pay to keep something they're really proud of and want to continue to have."
A vote of support that will help keep the school system operating despite the financial pressures created by the state.
The 35-cent tax increase is in place for the next 7 years.
School officials say they are hopeful that by the time it expires that the state will return to providing full support to rural schools.
If that doesn't happen, then there is a possibility another referendum will be held to try and keep the school operating.
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