The referendum is on the ballot for the November 8 election.
“A lot of people feel the county school system has been underfunded,” said Reverend C.E. McCollum. “They can’t address core curriculum and critical areas.”
McCollum and James Mills, also a member of the SCLC, believes passage of the supplemental school tax “will allow all three school districts and charter schools schools to receive equal funding for educational opportunities and resources. Halifax County commissioners intentionally and discriminately failed over the years to provide funding for any of the schools in Halifax County, as opposed to the city schools. As a result, they denied our children the fundamental right to a thorough and equitable education.”
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Because of this, McCollum said, “Our children have suffered academically, making it problematic for them to succeed and compete in today’s advanced industrial society.”
Mills said a political action committee is forming in an effort to raise awareness of the referendum to purchase posters, flyers and advertising spots to promote the matter. It will be called the Christian Leadership PAC. “We’re going to be going out from church to church. We feel like this is a moral issue. People need to hear about this from a moral standpoint.”
It is a 43-year-old issue which needs to be corrected, Mills said. “We are still trying to get proper funding for Halifax County schools.”
The message the SCLC will be delivering slightly more than a month before the election is, “Our children deserve the same educational opportunities,” McCollum said. “Approval of the supplemental tax is needed to equip our schools with the latest technology and much needed supplies and resources.”
Those supplies and resources include science labs, audio-visual equipment, computers, books, art supplies and resources to provide field trips for enrichment. “The supplemental tax is vital because a thorough and efficient education is delivered by qualified teachers. Offering competitive supplements and benefits will attract, hire and retain qualified and competent teachers to prepare our students for future successes,” McCollum said in a fact sheet on the matter.
McCollum also sees the tax as a way to create better education opportunities and better job opportunities, which, he said, “always result in less crime and less juvenile incarcerations. Better schools have always been a vital element for economic development in communities.”
McCollum emphasizes in his talking points the tax is based on property alone and will not impact sales tax. “The citizens who own no property don’t need to worry. They will not have to pay a supplemental tax because they own no property.”
McCollum also noted there is a push to fight the tax, describing it as a scare tactic. “Some mailings will try to scare citizens into not voting to approve the tax because they want to believe that will have to pay a huge amount on their property.”