Elmwood tries income taxes again
Written by MARIE THOMAS BAIRD Sentinel Education Editor
Tuesday, 18 June 2013 09:57
JERRY CITY - Elmwood will be back on the ballot in November with the second request for residents to renew two income taxes.
The school board voted 3-0 Monday night to go again to the polls. Trent Snowden and Jeff Chapman were not at the meeting.
The board also ratified a new three-year contract with its teachers' union.
The 0.5- and 0.75-percent income tax levies will expire in 2015 and 2016, respectively, and have been on the books since the early 1990s.
In May, both levy renewal requests were soundly defeated.
But those requests were to renew the issues to a continuing length of time, meaning they will never expire, rather than the five years that has been asked for the last 20 years.
"That seemed to be the biggest complaint in the district," said Superintendent Tony Borton about the change in levy length.
"We have listened carefully to the public," he added Monday. "They're so crucial to the running of the district in years to come."
The staggered levies, earmarked for operating expenses, were last approved by voters in 2009 with overwhelming support.
The combined levies have generated $1.6 million for the district this year, accounting for about 13 percent of the district's $12.2 million budget.
Also at Monday's meeting, the board approved a collective bargaining agreement with the Elmwood Education Association for July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2016.
The agreement will give teachers a 1.25-percent salary increase in the first and second years, and 1.5-percent in the third year.
Borton was especially pleased that both sides agreed to eliminate a clause that gave each teacher $200 a year for professional development.
"We just wanted to group the money rather than have individual (accounts)," Borton said.
Before this change, each teacher's personal account was kept by the board, and had turned into a bookkeeping nightmare, he said.
Now the board will have $40,000 in that account for the first year and $20,000 for each subsequent year.
"It does not carry over," Borton said.
There are fewer than 100 teachers in the EEA.
Union President Heidi Bench could not be reached for comment.
Teachers also wanted an employee discipline policy added, to stipulate a progressive discipline scale from verbal, to written, to suspension to termination.
Health insurance did not change, as teachers had given big concessions when the last contract was approved in 2010, Borton said. Vision insurance was added, however.
"We were real pleased in the final end. Both sides are satisfied and feel it's fair," Borton said.
LuAnn Vanek, district treasurer, said the raises will cost Elmwood about $870,000 over the life of the contract.
"I think the days of big raises are over in a lot of districts," she said about the Elmwood's deal.
Giving 1.25 percent also keeps Elmwood competitive with other districts its size, she added.
Also at the meeting, the board:
• Hired Adam Holcombe as special needs teacher, Amanda Fought as sixth-grade science teacher and Amanda St. John for high school Spanish.
• Honored retirees James Slagle for 33 years of service as a teacher, and Marcia Reynolds for 32 years as a bus driver.
• Accepted a donation of $3,044 from the athletic department for the athletic complex bond retirement fund. The money came from the Dean Pees event.
• Approved amendments to administrative contracts now requiring them to pay 10 percent of medical insurance premiums.