Elmwood may go back on ballot
Written by MARIE THOMAS BAIRD Sentinel Education Editor
Tuesday, 14 May 2013 09:00
JERRY CITY - The school board is hinting at going back to voters in November to try again to renew its two income taxes.
Superintendent Tony Borton asked school board members at their meeting Monday for their opinion to try again this year or wait until 2014.
An attempt earlier this month to pass the district's 0.5-percent and 0.75-percent income taxes for a continuing time was soundly defeated, with 58 percent of voters voting against each request.
Borton said he thought residents' biggest concern was the taxes were going to a continuing status rather than the five-year limit they've had since first being passed in the early 1990s.
Both income taxes were last approved in 2009 by 62 percent of the vote.
The 0.5- and 0.75-percent income tax levies are set to expire in 2015 and 2016, respectively, and combined generate $1,590,000 for the district, or about 14 percent of Elmwood's operating budget.
Borton said the biggest concern with waiting until 2014 is if the taxes don't pass that year, the district will get into "crunch time" to get them approved.
Board President Brian King asked about comments he heard that there aren't enough textbooks for all students to take home.
Borton admitted the district has not purchased new textbooks in the past three years because he didn't think it smart to buy books that would no longer be useful as the Common Core changes take place.
"It made no sense to spend money ... when the books wouldn't be compatible," he told the board.
He said the district will spend $150,000 in July on new books, for math in the elementary, science at the middle school and whatever is needed in the high school. Another $150,000 has been budgeted for the 2014-15 school year for textbooks.
Board member Ryan Lee suggested a "serious" campaign in November, not the low-keyed one ran prior to the May election.
"People know the only reason we do what we do is we had these pass in the '90s," he stated.
District Treasurer LuAnn Vanek pointed out that only 700 of the district's 4,000 registered voters made it to the polls May 7.
The board will again discuss the November option, and perhaps take action, at its June 17 meeting.
Also at the meeting, Vanek presented her five-year budget forecast for the district.
"We've been projected to over spend the last three years and haven't hit it yet," said Borton.
Vanek has predicted the district will spend $431,251 over revenue in this school year, and $438,856 next school year. But the district will still have a cash balance of $6.4 million at the end of this year and $5.9 million next year.
The increase in the district's income tax collection over the past several years produced that substantial carryover balance, according to Vanek.
The board also:
• Approved retirement requests from Dwight Lee, middle school media aide and high school event manager; James Slagle, high school special education teacher; and Betsy McGory, middle school science teacher.
• Set breakfast and lunch prices for 2013-14 at $1.50 for breakfast (no change); $2.15 for elementary lunch and $2.40 for high school lunch (both increasing 5 cents); $2.45 for adult lunch; and 45 cents for milk.
• Gave district payroll clerk Ron Kramer a continuing contract.
• Accepted a $924 donation from St. Paul's Lutheran Church women's group for student assistance for purchases in the cafeteria.