South Range BOE urged to consider levy

BEAVER TWP. – South Range Schools Treasurer Jim Phillips Monday night encouraged the school board to consider a new money levy on the November ballot.

At the regular board meeting Phillips noted projected deficit spending of $15,000 this year and $251,000 next, reduced significantly from $1.2 million last year thanks to cuts in the budget. But those cuts will only buy the district a couple years before the cash balance deficit begins to grow, he said.

“We have a problem. We need to raise revenue,” he said. “The board needs to be seriously considering what type and how large a levy to put on (the November ballot).”

Phillips said that the district has gone 10 years since the last new money levy for operations- and is entering the fourth year with an absolute pay freeze for employees. The district had previously passed new money levies every eight years, with three current levies on the books, he said.

With deficit spending, the district is unable to enter into any long-term contracts such as those for equipment leases or salaries without a positive cash balance for the life of the contract, Phillips explained. Currently the district is projected to enter an operating deficit in two years.

Schools Superintendent Dennis Dunham reiterated Phillips stance, noting that districts seem to have to support themselves.

“State and federal monies are being reduced to the point that (schools) are expected to be self sufficient,” he said.

The deadline for filing issues for the November ballot is Aug. 6. The board must pass two resolutions declaring intention and submitting the issue before that date.

Phillips summed up his proposal by stating simply that the district faces two options in the long run- “either pass a levy or the state comes in.”

In other business Dunham reported for elementary Principal Steve Matos that all third-grade students passed the third grade reading assessments for the new third grade reading guarantee initiative.

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. July 21 at the K-12 campus.