School System May Have to Adjust

The fifth time wasn’t the charm for officials seeking voter approval of higher taxes to support Bellaire schools. A proposed tax levy was defeated soundly during the Tuesday election.

That defeat marked the fifth time since 2010 that Bellaire voters have rejected new taxes for schools.

Yet school Superintendent Tony Scott told our reporter it is likely the district board of education will put yet another tax issue on the next election ballot.

During the past several years, Bellaire educators have made enormous strides in cutting expenses. The school system’s debt burden has been cut from about $3.8 million to about $1.1 million.

That has required major cutbacks, including layoffs of about 40 teachers – one-third of what Bellaire schools had just a few years ago. In addition, the administrative staff has been slashed from nine people to four.

Still, more money is needed to operate Bellaire schools effectively, officials say.

Trouble is, voters don’t seem inclined to provide it.

Scott said he was encouraged that on Tuesday, more voters were in favor of the tax issue than in the past. But, according to unofficial totals, the vote against still was 2,419-1,802.

It may be time for Bellaire school officials to devise a plan to operate without higher local taxes. If nothing else, that would show voters the effect of failure to approve new taxes. And, in view of five straight failures at the ballot box, such cutbacks may be inevitable.