By Harold Remme
ISD 88 Superintendent
The 2012-13 school year is underway. Students, families, staff and the community have settled into a school routine. Sleeping patterns, breakfast patterns, bus routines, activity practices and games have all fallen into place. Outwardly, the beginning of the school year has included these routines.
Inwardly, the 2012-13 school year is different in several significant ways from prior years. Classroom sections are much larger than in previous years at both the elementary and secondary levels. Bus routes are longer. Students qualifying for special services have increased over previous years. Participation fees for activities have increased. Several staff are being required to assume additional duties in an effort to create combination assignments. Some classes previous offered are not available to students. These are modifications that have been necessary for financial reasons.
One thing that has not changed from previous years is the dedication and professionalism of the ISD 88 staff. Even though more is expected of each staff member, they have accepted the challenge because they know how crucial it is for the students in our classrooms to be prepared for an ever changing future. Every staff member, regardless of their assignment, is dedicated to doing as much as possible to assist students in being successful.
The school board recognizes the critical need to reduce class section sizes, develop class alternatives needed by future graduates to have employment and post-secondary skills necessary to succeed among other academic targets. Therefore, the school board has authorized placing an operating levy referendum question on the November 6, 2012 ballot. The future success of the students in our public schools is dependent on additional financial resources.
The November 6 ballot question will ask voters to approve an additional property tax which will yield approximately an additional $1.2 million dollars of revenue to the school district on an annual basis. Successful passage of this ballot question will prevent or soften future budgetary reductions.
Understanding the election ballot question is important. The wording of the ballot question asks the voter to approve an operating referendum with a value of $575 per pupil unit. That dollar amount is NOT how much a property taxpayers taxes will increase, if it is approved. That dollar amount is part of a formula used for school revenues established by the state legislature.
Fact: If the ballot question is approved, a parcel of property with a valuation of $100,000 will experience a tax increase of $118 per year. That dollar amount equals a monthly impact of $9.83 or about $.33 per day. Taxpayers are encouraged to refer to the school district website to click on tax calculator to find the tax impact on their property value. Another fact of interest for agricultural property owners is that the tax applies on to the value of the farm house, garage and one acre of land. The tax does not apply to all acres owned or operated by agricultural property owners.
Locally, a group of people from a broad spectrum of the community is mobilizing an effort to support passage of the referendum. This broadbased support group recognizes the community impact of a strong educational system.
In weeks ahead, the school district is required to mail an informational brochure to all local taxpayers. In additional, the school is required to hold a community informational meeting. The date for the informational meeting will be set by the Board of Education at its September 27 meeting. Community residents desiring further information about the operating levy referendum question on the November 6 election ballot are encouraged to contact my office at 507-359-8401.