School seeks replacement levy

The Waterville school band performs at graduation in 2017. The levy funds help support activities such as music. (Empire Press photo/Suzanne Robinson)

 

By Suzanne Robinson
Empire Press Correspondent

Waterville School District voters will decide Feb. 13 on a replacement levy to fund educational programs and operations for the district.

The levy is crucial because roughly 80 percent of the basic education funding comes from state and federal funding. The rest needs to come from a combination of levies and grants.

The levy currently provides funds for:

  • Unfunded staff cost, including salaries, benefits, professional development and substitutes.
  • Gaps in state funding caused by declining enrollment.
  • Food services support.
  • Basic maintenance and operations.
  • Extracurricular activities.
  • Increased transportation costs.
  • Music and art programs for K-12.
  • Library support and technology.

Elementary students have a meal in the school lunchroom. Levy funds help support food services. (Empire Press photo/Suzanne Robinson)

Currently the levy plus levy equalization revenue amount, which ends Dec. 31, 2018, is $934,000. With the proposed levy plus levy equalization revenue, the amount will be $371,850.

The levy will be partially replacing the current levy which is at a rate of $4.28 per $1,000 assessed value ($428 annually on a home assessed at $100,000) to a rate of $1.50 per $1,000 assessed value ($150 annually on a home assessed at $100,000).

The Levy Equalization Assistance (LEA) uses a formula to provide matching funds for property-poor school districts so they can receive additional state assistance, provided their community passes the levy. However, the formula has changed and now only allows districts a maximum of $1,500 per student total, combining levy and LEA funds. Therefore, the total amount of levy plus levy equalization cannot exceed $1,500 per student. This means that the school will be looking at a large reduction in funding even with the passing of the new levy. Without the levy being passed, the reduction in funding will be far greater.

The Waterville/Mansfield Shockers in action last October against the Liberty Bell Mountain Lions. Athletics are among the extracurricultar activities supported by levy funds. (Empire Press file photo/James Robinson)

Waterville School District recognizes that there are too many unknowns that still exist with the new funding formula in HB 2242. That is why they are only asking for a one-year levy.

Cathi Nelson, Waterville School District superintendent, has made a promise to the community that “as we make decisions in reductions, our first and foremost concern and commitment is to our students. Each student and their education always will come first. Our goal is to make thoughtful, intentional changes based on available revenue and minimize the negative impact on our students.”

Nelson further said that the community can trust the board and administration to make the right decisions for their students and their educational needs going forward.

Anyone seeking more information about the levy, may contact Nelson at 745-8584 (work) or 699-1424 (cell), or email cnelson@waterville.wednet.edu; or contact Ed Daling, chairman of the Vote Yes for Kids campaign, at 669-1660.