On Nov. 5, 2013, the community approved a new 6.99 current expense levy for a five-year period. The levy generates just under $4 million annually. Its original passage was to help with the revenue loss/phasing out of tangible personal property taxes and the declining and “capped” state funding payments. Leading up to that passage, educational offering and electives had been reduced, transportation reduced, extra-curricular and athletic pay-to-participate fees increased, and staffing (both inside and outside the classroom) reduced.
Where is the District today? Educational offerings such as Elementary Art, Physical Education, and Music have been enhanced. High School elective class options have increased. Bus routes have been adjusted, the number of bus routes has been increased and more shuttles have been added. Transportation is now offered to all Morton and Smith students. Transportation has been expanded for students at Demmitt who live west of I75. Pay-to-participate athletic fees have been reduced (twice). All academic club and organization fees have been eliminated. The District continues to “right-size” staffing based on educational needs.
Financially, the District continues to address issues created by the loss of the tangible personal property taxes and further declining State funding. Because of caps in the state funding formula, in 2017, the District is not receiving nearly $1.5 million dollars of funding that it would have received under state funding formula.
Where do we go? After thorough discussions with the District’s financial advisory committee (comprised of community business leaders and residents as well as staff), the Board passed the necessary resolutions to RENEW the 6.99 mill current expense levy, but with one change: making its duration for a continuing period of time (permanent). The intent is to maintain fiscal stability and receive the same nearly $4 million annually. The use of the phrase “for a continuing period of time” is the language required by law to be used on the ballot.
Every discussion, presentation, and article, including the State of the Schools address, included a thorough explanation of the continuing levy. The money created by the levy is necessary to maintain current operations.
The District recently adopted an academic and financial strategic plan through the year 2021. The District started to implement 34 of 43 strategic objectives during this school year. Progress of the plan will rely, in part, on passage of this levy.
I am writing this letter to help to ensure that our community members are informed of the facts as you exercise one of our democracy’s greatest privileges, the right to vote. If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with me.
We are AVIATORS!
Eric K. Beavers