A ten percent Instructional Support Levy, if approved by the voters March 16, will keep the Mid-Prairie School District financially solvent. Members of the Mid-Prairie Board of Education Monday …
A ten percent Instructional Support Levy, if approved by the voters March 16, will keep the Mid-Prairie School District financially solvent. Members of the Mid-Prairie Board of Education Monday reached a consensus on the figure, agreeing that the major part of the levy will come from an income tax surcharge.
In actual money, it is estimated that $323,000 will be raised by the surtax and $80,000 from property tax. The remainder of the $465,000 will come from state funds. State law requires that a portion of the levy be derived from property tax.
Board members also learned that the general tax asking for the next fiscal year will be lower. That means if the levy passes, the property tax levy will not be significantly larger than the current one, said Superintendent Gordon Cook.
Much of the board’s discussion centered on how the levy funds would be used, including funds for all-day every-day kindergarten.
Members of the Mid-Prairie Athletic Boosters have asked the board to consider building a new weight room at the high school. In fact, the group has pledged its assistance, and Monday Booster member Ron Gingerich told the board that the addition of the facility could favorably affect the levy vote.
The Boosters have even suggested that the board start on the facility immediately, even if funds have to be borrowed. The Boosters offered to pay the interest charges and the architectural fees, the board was told. For the Boosters, their share is expected to run at least to $40,000.
However, Cook said that the levy cannot be used to borrow against, that state law specifically prohibits that.
Board member Jack Dillon noted that the board has discussed key issues, such as instructional materials and replacing district reserves, for some time and that those priorities have not altered.
He noted that the weight room request “came in last. It should not be put on top.”
Resident Shirley Kos noted that the weight room “should have been on the bond issue,” something with which board members agreed.
Finally, the district’s Business Manager, Doug Slaubaugh, told the board that “right now we cannot afford anything,” that if additional revenue is not found all reserves “will be gone in two years.”
He stressed that a key issue is to start rebuilding the reserves, so that if “something is needed, there will be money for it.”
Slaubaugh explained that using reserves to fund on-going programs created much of the financial problem, that reserves were meant to cover a one-time expense.
He added that the levy “is the last funding source we have.”
Slaubaugh also noted that the district’s Matching Funds policy, which has not been possible to do for the last two years, “was one of the best things we have going.” It provided items for the district at half-price.” As a result, building up funds to resume the award-winning Matching Funds policy “would be a good idea.”
Present plans call for 20 percent of the levy funds to be set aside for rebuilding the reserves.
Board members agreed that voters should be told specifically what the funds will finance. Board members debated exactly how specific, with Dillon asking for additional time to review items, including having larger categories.
Finally, the board voted to hold a special meeting at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, February 16, to vote on the levy resolution.
In other business, the board:
•hired Kim Anderson as a special education aide at Wellman Elementary School. Board member Tracy Anderson abstained in the voting.
•hired Becky Kemp as a part-time special education aide at the Middle School.
•agreed to grant Philippe Moineau a one-year leave to teach abroad for a year, provided a suitable replacement is found.
•accepted the financial audit report.
•approved the 1999-2000 calendar that sees classes starting August 24 and graduation, for the Class of 2000, set for May 28.
•learned that Athletic Director Don Showalter will coach the McDonald’s All-American game March 24 in Ames, featuring the 20 top high school seniors in the nation.
•received a detailed presentation about the interdisciplinary curriculum at the Middle School.
•were told the first in a series of public Instructional Support Levy meetings is Thursday, February 11 at the Middle School.
•received a report from students Hilary Shalla and Troy Ruffin that high school students view the year “as going smooth” and that the blocks scheduling has met with student approval.