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Concord schools' referendum challenged by opposing group

K.C. Clements formed Vote No in Concord because he believes Concord schools should make dramatic cuts to its budget rather than ask for more tax money. The school corporation, however, says that making more cuts would be catastrophic. 

Posted on April 5, 2014 at 10:41 a.m.

K.C. Clements hopes his grandchildren will go to Concord schools. 

He's not voting for a referendum that would help the struggling school district, though, and he's actively encouraging others to vote "no."

Clements created Vote No in Concord, a group that includes him and two other people. They oppose the school referendum, which would be an additional tax levy of $0.405 for every $100 of assessed property value, because they believe that Concord hasn't made all the cuts it could to its budget.

Another group, Yes for Concord Kids, is working to communicate the school's financial needs to voters. 

Clements said local residents haven't recovered from the economic collapse and just don't have more to give to the schools.

"I know a lot of people in the area who have just suffered tremendously," Clements said. "We are driving old cars, we aren't doing home repairs."

After the recession hit, Clements laid off all seven of his employees, sold everything he owned that wasn't essential and stopped "living the American dream." 

If he hadn't done that he would have gone bankrupt, he said. And he thinks schools haven't suffered from the effects of the recession like residents have.

He believes the school needs to make do with the money it has — even if that means dramatically cutting programs.

There would be causalities to any cut made, "but that's life," he said.

Concord administrators have said they have already cut spending, including canceling summer school programs in 2013, eliminating technology positions and freezing capital project spending. Further cuts, they said, would be damaging to the schools and cause them to lose students to other districts. 

Clements blogs about how the school corporation could save money on the group's website, votenoinconcord.com. He's also had yard signs made, and he plans to go door-to-door in the Concord school district soon.

His ideas on how schools could save money include privatizing sports and cutting extra-curricular activities.

"I know I'm old school, but the school's' first responsibility is the three R's," he said. "I see the need for sports, but on the other hand our responsibility is to teach first."

Clements said he has communicated with Wayne Stubbs, Concord's superintendent, about his concerns with the referendum. He said Stubbs "could make the really hard decisions without raising taxes, and he would be a hero in my eyes."

Stubbs met with residents for several months about the the school's financial situation before bringing a referendum plan to the board in January. 

Board president Randall Myers has said that if the referendum doesn't pass the effect on the schools will be "catastrophic." 

To learn more about Vote No in Concord, email Clements at votenoinconcord@gmail.com. To learn more about Yes for Concord Kids, visit their website at yesforconcordkids.org.

Follow reporter Lydia Sheaks on Twitter at @LydiaSheaks

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misstated the number of employees K.C. Clements laid off following the recession. This version is correct. We regret the error.


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