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Trustees propose 13-cent tax increase
(07/16/15)

by Dolores Hamilton
Iowa Park school trustees approved a proposed tax rate of $1.41 for 2015 at their regular meeting on Thursday. This is an increase of 13-cents per $100 property valuation.

The board also approved the proposed budget for 2015-2016 that shows a deficit of $750,882 under the current tax rate of $1.27.

Need for the increase is a result of appraised values being down and resulting in less state and local revenue (more than $500,000 for the district). “In addition, legislators have given all homesteads in the state an additional $10,000 homestead adjustment to be voted on in November,” said Superintendent Steve Moody. “The state has said they will make up any lost revenue on the M&O side.” There are 2,800 homesteads in the Iowa Park school district.

The school board will adopt the tax rate and budget at a special called meeting on July 28, and call a Tax Ratification Election to be held Sept. 29. During the time period for early voting, each campus will host an open house with voting machines available.

If the tax increase passes, it would amount to an additional $1-million a year for the district. This would allow technology upgrades, competitive salaries, maintenance and repair of campus buildings, and parking lot repairs.

After meeting in closed session, the board accepted the resignation of high school English teacher and coach Justin Swenson, and his wife Karter, a third grade teacher at Bradford. The Swensons will be moving to Stephenville where he was hired as the head baseball coach.

Resignations were also accepted from Harlan Lowe, middle school math teacher and coach; Stephen Spencer, middle school vice principal; and Hugh Smith, high school chemistry teacher.

Newly hired teachers include Shannon McCaffity, high school English, journalism and yearbook; Amy Garcia, middle school math teacher and high school coach; and Jason Young, middle school teacher and boy’s athletic coach.

School lunch prices will be up 10-cents at all campuses. “We don’t have a choice on this,” said Moody. “School districts have to comply with a USDA formula when setting lunch prices. “Every year for the last four or five years we’ve been having to raise our lunch prices a nickel to 10-cents to meet their standards,” Moody explained. “This year we’re having to raise the prices 10-cents, we don’t have a choice.”

Lunch prices for the 2015-2016 school year will be: Kidwell Elementary, $2.10; Bradford Elementary, $2.35; W. F. George Middle School, $2.65; Iowa Park High School, $2.65; Adults, all campuses, $3.50; and Guests, all campuses, $3.50.

The district will continue to provide breakfast free of charge for all district students.

In other business the Services Contract for 2015-2016 with Region 9 ESC Service Center was approved, and the bid from Oak Farms for dairy products was accepted.

A hearing on Federal Programs was held and the school district’s business manager Sharon Godwin explained how the money is used.

Title I funds are used to provide additional aides at Kidwell, Bradford, and the middle school to assist with instruction; extend learning opportunities through tutorials, after school classes and summer school; and promote parental involvement.

Title II funds are used to provide recruitment and retention of teachers through offering a master’s stipend, and fund an additional Kidwell teacher to decrease class size (2014-15 only).

The second reading of TASB Policy Update 102 was held, and Tim Kingcade gave an update on summer maintenance projects.