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ECPPS board to support sales tax for schools

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Members of the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Board of Education announced their intention Friday to adopt at the March 26 regular board meeting a resolution supporting a proposed one-fourth-cent sales tax that would be used to benefit local schools.

The school board held a work session Friday afternoon on the sales tax referendum. The work session came on the heels of a unanimous vote by the Pasquotank County Board of Commissioners Monday to adopt a resolution indicating the funds generated by the proposed sales tax would be used for “heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, athletic facilities, technology, class-size reduction mandates, school safety and debt service for any capital projects related to schools.”

The referendum will be on the ballot in the May 8 Primary. Voters rejected the one-fourth-cent sales tax in 2012 and 2016.

Although the school board plans to adopt a resolution in support of the referendum at its regular board meeting this month, school officials emphasized during their discussion Friday that state law bars them from campaigning on behalf of the referendum.

Superintendent Larry Cartner said school officials can answer questions with factual information about the tax and plans for its use, can inform and educate the public, but cannot say to people, “Please vote ‘yes’ on this referendum.”

Tammy Sawyer, the community schools coordinator and communications officer for the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools, said efforts at information and education related to the referendum will include advertisements in the Daily Advance, presentations to parent groups at schools, presentations to civic clubs and dissemination of informational flyers.

“It’s got to be an intentional effort,” Sawyer said.

When board member Buck Jolly asked about sending flyers home with students, Sawyer said “flyers will be widely distributed.”

Sawyer said the informational materials will emphasize the terms “one-fourth-cent” and “one-fourth of a penny” because the equally correct “quarter-cent” can be confusing for people.

Board of Education Chairwoman Sharon Warden agreed that many people automatically think of 25 cents when they hear “quarter.”

School officials also said they would use the explanation that the tax would be one cent on a purchase of of $4 and would point out that people who live outside the county, but who shop in Pasquotank, will contribute by paying the tax on things they buy in the county.

In addition, school officials plan to note that the tax will not be charged on groceries or gasoline.

“It’s a conscious effort to educate and inform,” Sawyer said.

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