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Coopman, Community Leaders Hope Against Referendum Donor Fatigue

J.T. Coopman

Photo: Stan Jastrzebski

MCCSC Superintendent J.T. Coopman speaks to a Bloomington Rotary Club crowd about backing the corporation's tax referendum.

Monroe County Community Schools Superintendent J.T. Coopman has begun to take his message of passing the corporation’s ballot referendum to the people who will vote on it in November.

Coopman raised an eyebrow during a Tuesday meeting at Governor Mitch Daniels, whom he inferred has underestimated the impact of losing the federal stimulus funding which has propped up public education during the current budget cycle.  But Coopman said he’s hearing more positive remarks about the referendum than negative ones, adding he hopes the MCCSC’s recent extra-curricular fundraising campaign does not stop people from voting yes to a measure aimed at raising seven-and-a-half million dollars in tax revenue over the next six years.

“I think there’s going to be some people that say ‘You know, I’ve already given at the office, so to speak, and I’m not ready to give any more by way of raising my property taxes’,” Coopman said. “I think there will be others that will say no, extra-curricular activities are important and if we don’t win the referendum, those are the kinds of things and opportunities that will go away for our kids.”

Monroe County Public Library Director Sara Laughlin attended Coopman’s Tuesday address, saying she knows from the library’s own recent fundraising efforts that bake sales alone aren’t enough to fill budget gaps.

“The situation is grim across all of our non-profit community,” Laughlin said.  “The economic downturn does have an impact on everybody.  I think we’re tightening our belts.  And beyond that, some things will have to go if we can’t figure out another way to fund them.”

Laughlin said she’s in favor of the MCCSC referendum, but against a statewide ballot measure which would add property tax caps to Indiana’s constitution.  She said she feels the Bloomington community needs more information on the MCCSC’s measure before voters can decide whether to back it.

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