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Exeter discusses tax levy increase

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Exeter R-VI School Board set the 2005-06 school year tax levy hearing for Aug. 9 during its regularly scheduled meeting on July 12.

The board will consider increasing the school tax levy from $3.15 to $3.43 at the August hearing.

Through the new school funding formula, districts with fewer than 350 students will receive extra funding through a Small Schools Grant.

"The Small Schools Grant is distributed in two parts," said Tina Nolan, Exeter superintendent. "Through the first part we will automatically be eligible for a certain amount for each student, but we will only receive the second part of the funding if we have a $3.43 levy."

The Small Schools Grant serves as an incentive to raise district levies to $3.43. If the Exeter School District does not approve the levy increase for the 2006-07 school year, the district will not receive the second half of the grant funding, which amounts to around $75,000.

The new school funding formula stipulates no consequences for schools who do not raise their levies to $3.43 during the 2006-07 school year. However, Senate Bill 894 sets the state performance levy at $3.43.

The district will start to see cuts in state aid if it does not set the levy at $3.43, said Melvin Lacey, board president.

"The amount of state aid we see will be less, because they want to see more of a local effort," said Lacey.

The Exeter School District's current tax ceiling is set at $3.69. The raise in the tax levy will require a majority vote of the school board members.

"We haven't raised the levy for two years and the last time we raised it, we didn't raise it much," said Lacey. "We could save the taxpayers for one year, but our students would lose $75,000 in funding."

Exeter has received the official letter on the boundary arbitration hearing, which states that the boundary line will remain unchanged. Nolan has also received a contract proposal from the Cassville R-IV School District for educational services.

According to the contract, Cassville will offer educational instruction to the two students who live near Stony Point in exchange for the funds the Exeter School District receives for the students.

Nolan discussed other options for the two students residing in the Exeter School District, who attend Cassville. Jim Orrell, Cassville superintendent, could sign a waiver for the students, the students' parents could pay tuition for the students to continue attending Cassville or the students could move into the Cassville School District.

Nolan warned the board about signing the contract for educational services because contracts for educational services are typically used when a district cannot provide adequate services for a student.

"We paid for this boundary issue to be put on the ballot. Voters in the Exeter School District voted on this issue," said Doug Weston, board member. "Those kids can be educated in our district as well as Cassville. They can pay tuition or attend school in our district."

The board voted not to approve the contract. Letters will be sent to the Cassville School Board informing the district of the Exeter School Board's decision.

"We don't feel like the students should be uprooted. We always consider what is best for the kids," said Nolan, "but the family has options. I would feel it was my responsibility for my kids, and I would either move or pay tuition."

In other business, the Exeter R-VI School District:

• Discussed several copier leases.

• Approved breakfast and lunch prices at the same level as last school year. Meal prices will be 50 cents for breakfast and 90 cents for elementary lunch. Students in sixth through 12th grade can purchase lunch for $1.15, and adult lunch prices will be set at $1.25.

• Authorized Nolan to request gasoline, diesel and milk bids.

• Authorized Davis, Lynn and Moots to prepare the 2005-06 ASBR.

The next Exeter School Board meeting will be Aug. 9.



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