Vote for sales tax referendum

Voters have the opportunity to consider an additional 1/2-cent sales tax for school safety funding. As conservatives and realists, we want to fund safety in our schools. According to the 2016 Loudon County tourism report, approximately 40 percent of local sales tax was paid by visitors, not residents.

We believe it is important for voters to know that the 1/2 penny would fund a safe and sound plan developed with input from students, teachers, school board members, city government representatives and police department personnel who serve on the School Safety Task Force. It includes both one-time and long-term expenses.

One-time expenses include constructing vestibules or entry areas at each school, adding perimeter security systems and interior locks, upgrading technology to screen visitors, monitoring entries through keyless options, upgrading radios, security cameras and direct video to local emergency agencies. Improving bus safety is a large expense as well.

Long-term expenses include ongoing personnel and training costs to help students and teachers deal with social and emotional challenges of childhood and adolescence. Addressing the social and emotional health is key to making sure that all students feel safe. Safety funding would provide salaries and benefits for at least four school resource officers, three nurses, three behavioral health and social workers and three guidance counselors.

As public servants and citizens, we are asking voters to vote for this referendum. In good faith, the school system has a written agreement with Lenoir City government to ensure that the proceeds of the sales tax be “exclusively used to benefit Lenoir City Schools to provide additional funding for school safety initiatives.” The agreement also requires that the school system present an annual report of expenditures to the Lenoir City Board of Education and Lenoir City Council.

Rick Chadwick

Lenoir City BOE chairman

Jeanne Barker

Lenoir City director of schools