In a split vote, the South Eastern School Board has decided to increase taxes as the district is facing a $3 million budget deficit.
Seven of the nine school board members voted to increase taxes by 1.7 percent to 21.2055 mills for the 2012-2013 school year.
That means an increase of about $35 on a home worth $100,000. The current tax rate is 20.8510 mills.
The board previously decided to stay under its 2.2 percent property tax cap set by the state rather than seek exceptions, which limits the tax increase.
Board members Brett Barry and Robert Taylor voted against the increase. "I'm not for an increase," Taylor said. "Never have, never will."
He said the district needs to find a "happy balance" in overcoming its financial woes without overwhelming its residents with tax increases.
Taylor said residents include people living on limited incomes and homeowners facing foreclosure. He said the district needs to figure out how to make do without raising taxes.
The tax vote came after the board voted 8-1 to eliminate 17 teaching positions - at the elementary, middle and high school levels - to save about $900,000 for the next school year.
The board also voted 6-3 to implement a full-day kindergarten program at the district's elementary schools for the 2012-2013 school year. One half-day class - to be filled on a first-come, first-served basis - will be available at Fawn Elementary School.
The full-day program will eliminate the majority of the half-day bus runs for kindergarten students, resulting in saved transportation funds being used for the full-day classes.
Three teachers' positions would be added for the full-time classes as well.
-Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at 505-5438 or email@example.com.