Two Elmwood income taxes sought for continuing period
Written by MARIE THOMAS BAIRD Sentinel Education Editor
Wednesday, 06 February 2013 10:21
JERRY CITY - The proposed renewal of two income taxes for the Elmwood School District are for a continuing time.
Since the 1990s, when the 0.50 percent and a 0.75 percent taxes were first approved, the district has asked voters to renew them every five years.
With the change in language on the May ballot, both taxes will be for a continuing time, eliminating the need to ask voters for renewals in the future.
The school board voted unanimously, 5-0, on the language change at Monday's meeting.
"We have not asked for new money since 1991," said board President Brian King. That bodes well "for being fiscally responsible for taxpayers."
The two issues are set to expire in 2015 and 2016.
The district is asking for support now, hoping to not get in a position where funds become scarce.
A school district can renew a levy at any time, explained Superintendent Tony Borton. "We had great support last time. And things are going well in the district."
Getting these issues passed now, rather than wait two years, could eliminate the need to tell the public the district will make cuts if they don't pass, he added.
"That income tax makes this a fiscally stable district," added LuAnn Vanek, district treasurer.
The staggered levies, earmarked for operating expenses, were last approved by voters in 2009. Both passed with 63 percent of the vote.
When last approved, the 0.50-percent tax levy was expected to generate $635,000 in revenue annually, and the 0.75 tax issue about $950,000.
The 0.50-percent tax levy was first approved by voters in 1991 and the 0.75 levy in 1995.
Also at Monday's meeting, the board set a public meeting for March 11 at 7 p.m. in the school auditeria to discuss the issue of re-employing a handful of people who want to retire but be rehired to their posts.
The list includes teachers Tracey Cole, Brenda Meyer, Michelle St. Jean, Diane Reynolds-Miller and David Wellman; and Vanek, district treasurer.
The request is specifically for financial reasons, said Borton.
Salaries will drop for everyone once they retire and get rehired, saving the district between $60,000 and $100,000 each year for the five teachers, according to Borton.
Vanek's salary has not been discussed.
Letting the staff retire then hiring new teachers also will save money, but the district will lose experience in the classroom, he continued.
With changes in the State Teachers Retirement System laws, "the cliff is coming" where other districts will experience the same thing.
"These are excellent teachers. I want them back, and this is a win-win for everybody," Borton stated.
The board is under no obligation to rehire the employees. Borton indicated the staff in question will only retire if they're rehired.
The board also extended contracts for Tom Bentley, high school principal; Dean Bell, middle school principal; Brenda Schnitker, special education coordinator; Michele Story, athletic/student activity coordinator; and Terry Rothenbuhler, cafeteria supervisor. All of their contracts were extended two years, for 2014-16. Their salaries will not change.
Michelle Tuite, elementary principal, gave a 35-minute presentation on upcoming changes due to the third-grade guarantee, which goes into effect during the 2013-14 school year.
Every third-grader has to pass a state-set reading exam to move forward to fourth grade. Those who do no pass will be held back.
Tuite said her staff will use a reading and intervention monitoring plan for each student, to gauge their reading level throughout the school year.
She showed pie charts to the board explaining how students are making gains in reading and comprehension for just the first half of this school year.
Despite her attempts to continue to communicate with parents, especially those who have second-graders this year, "we're still going to have upset people" when this goes into effect next year.
She added that there are 15 to 18 second-graders who will require special need services, and all will not be exempt from the new rule.
"I feel it's going to be really ugly before it gets better," Tuite stated.