CHICKASAW, Ala (WALA) - The Chickasaw School System is moving forward after a referendum to raise taxes and benefit the city's fledgling school district failed last week.
Chickasaw is about three months away from completing its system's first school term, and the school superintendent is optimistic about its performance.
"I would give us an ‘A,' said Kyle Kallhoff, superintendent for the Chickasaw School System.
Kallhoff remains upbeat, despite voters striking down to a referendum that would have raised the property taxes millage rate by 7.5, or $75 on a home assessed at $100,000.
"We were upset for about two hours and we woke up the next morning, and we immediately starting planning," he said. "This was a stepping stone; it wasn't successful but we don't stop there."
Ask Chickasaw parents with kids in the system, and their feelings about the vote are mixed.
"I voted for it," said Dave Rhodes.
"I voted ‘No,'" said one concerned parent with kids in the new system.
Rhodes, the Chickasaw United Methodist Church pastor, has two children attending school in the new system. He said he didn't mind the potential tax increase.
"We got a lot of houses for sale in Chickasaw, and I believe, if we have a good school system, the people are going to want to locate here for a good house price and a good school system," said Rhodes.
Other residents say they can't afford it. Some parents remain upset that their kids were taken out of Mobile County Schools.
"The citizens were not given an option to have a school system or not," said a concerned parent, "The 10 or 11 school board meetings that we went to they kept saying we are not going to raise taxes.
"Six months later, they're raising taxes."
Chickasaw is one of 20 school systems in the state that does not have its state mandated reserve fund built up. It needs about half-a-million dollars for one month in reserves.
Kalhoff says he met with legislators in Montgomery yesterday, on Feb. 26, and presented several plans to them on how to fund the system in the future.
"I want to get it in the community have some focus groups, get in to the midst of those that voted "no" and find out why and find out why. Is there something we can do, something we can do different," said Kalhoff.
Still, he's looking forward. Kalhoff said a football program is still in the works. He said school districts outside the county and state have come forward with offers of equipment to help Chickasaw get that started.
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