GRANGEVILLE Following a lengthy discussion at the Dec. 17 board meeting, the Mountain View School District 244 board voted to hold the 2018-19 supplemental levy in May rather than March.
“Will we for sure know more about funding then?” superintendent Marc Scheibe questioned. “Maybe, maybe not.”
During conversation, chair Lot Smith said there are many ways to cut $1.6 million (expected shortfall) from the budget and “none is pretty.”
Currently, the district is over the state-allotted FTE (full time employee) allowance – as in number of teachers – by 11.6 and is over administration by .3.
Trustee Mike Dominguez said, “I’m going to become the most unpopular person in the room right now.”
“I don’t know anybody who gets 100 percent of health insurance and 70 percent of dependent health insurance paid for,” he said. “There has to be a buy-in from employees. I cannot ask the taxpayers for more [without making any cuts].”
“You wouldn’t work with us on this,” teacher Joe Tosten spoke out from the crowd of about 135. He was referring to the previous year’s negotiations.
“That is absolutely not true,” Dominquez stated.
Lot said the state is not funding education at the rate it should.
“Our taxpayers have stepped up, but I cannot justify asking for more,” he said, adding that in the current climate, a levy would be difficult to pass.
“I disagree that we cannot ask for more,” trustee Brad Lutz interjected. “If we spread out the cuts across the board, I don’t feel we should exclude increasing the levy.”
The room erupted with applause.
“The levy will not be increased – I will see to that,” threw in trustee Casey Smith.
He said the district is heavy on teacher/professional service days as well as compensated healthcare benefits.
“I’m not going to be quiet this year – the school board’s been ravaged by teachers and the union,” Casey added.
Comments came from throughout the room with Casey calling out Tosten.
“You can laugh, Joe, but when I went against the levy before, I only handed out 50 fliers and it came within 39 votes of not passing,” he said.
“I just don’t know why you’d sit there and say that – and work against the kids? Why would you even want to be in this [trustee] position?” Tosten questioned.
Tosten said he is in favor of using current forest funds (Secure Rural Schools funding) and that they have been “pretty stable. I’d bet on that horse.”
“I wouldn’t,” Lot Smith said.
“We’re trying to be responsible and look at the longevity of the district without relying on one-time money,” trustee Rebecca Warden said.
“We can spend the forest funds until there’s nothing, and if they aren’t renewed, then what? We have nothing,” Dominguez added.
Tosten told an animated Casey Smith he was “hostile toward public education,” and several people in the room commented perhaps he should not be on the board.
“Be careful what you ask for. You’re stupid or naïve if you think I can’t fail this upcoming levy,” Casey stood and pointed at the crowd.
Lot Smith quietly told Casey to settle down, that “we don’t want this to get out of control,” and Casey abided.
Dominguez told the audience, “I don’t take this lightly. It makes me sick. I love our teachers, our schools. It’s like parenting – your kids don’t always like what you do, but you do what you think is best.”
Lot said he felt more information from state and federal funding sources will be available by March, and a levy set for May would be more accurate. The board unanimously agreed.