Bonds Target Repairs

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Fred Wile, president of the Meridian School Board and Suzanne Smith, chief fiscal officer, say it's necessary to sell up to $2 million in bonds, even though schools allegedly had a $4.3 million "rainy day" fund available.

"There is no rainy day fund and there is not a pot of money sitting in the bank waiting for these $4 million to below zero," Wile said.

Smith maintained there have been several times they have had to use whatever surplus money they might have.

"So yes, we have steadily tapped it, especially since the time that the state has begun mandating state teacher raises and not always funding those raises," added Smith.

Smith said this year the shortfall in state funding for teacher pay raises and health insurance will cost the district approximately $1.7 million in local funds.

Wile says there is a maintenance budget but not what it should be.

"The last two years we have tried to have a $500,000 maintenance budget. Suzanne can speak to what it actually ended up. In order to make the budget balance the last two years, that budget has been cut in half," said Wile.

Wile said the bond issue is only a short term fix.

"It will solve today's immediate emergency problems. This community still has to deal with the fact that almost all our schools are 50 or more years old," said the board president. "Some of them, one of them, is over 100 years old. We're going to have to deal with that at some point if we want an educational system to be proud of."

Some schools will not get repairs they need through this bond issue.