BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Weighted down by declining enrollment and reduced state funding, the Fort Madison Community School District will begin participating in an instructional support levy program for the next five years.
At Monday’s regular meeting of the school district board of directors, the board voted unanimously to participate in the program which will generate approximately $334,000 in increased revenue, however details of the final levy won’t be known until the March 20 meeting as the board is also looking at a Cash Reserve Levy.
Just keeping at status quo funding with declining enrollment would set the school’s levy for the 2017-2018 school year at $13.94/$1,000 assessed valuation. With the ISL, which requires a property tax component, the levy is bumped to $13.95. If the school were to consider a $300,000 cash reserve levy addition, the new proposed levy would be $14.45/$1,000.
Sandy Elmore, the district’s finance director said the board needs to make a decision on how to move forward by the March 20 meeting so she can publish the proposed budget and submit it to the state.
“This year the low supplemental state aid of 1.1% would result in $14.3 million for us so that means we qualify for the budget guarantee amount, which is based on last year’s figures and we’ve lost so many students the state would have had to go over 4% for us to see any of what’s called new money. So we’re going to be at $14.733 million on budget guarantee. That means $50,000 in new money, but it shifts the burden to a levy and we would have to levy to get that $50,000.”
Elmore said then increasing the levy to accommodate the Cash Reserve Levy, which was recommended on the advice of the district’s bond counselors would push the levy to $14.45/$1,000.
A look at other area schools still has Fort Madison in the lower half of the other districts almost all of whom have ISL’s in place already.
In other action,
- the board set June 27 as the next referendum date on a bond issue to construct a new elementary school. That date will require that all documentation and petitions be submitted prior to May 12 to get on the ballot.
- the board had an extended work session with Iowa Association of School Board’s Harry Heilingenthal as part of Project Lighthouse, a continuing education program aimed at focusing goals and priorities of the school board to be in line with district staff and creating a common goal approach to the district.