‘Downward spiral’ if levy does not pass says Supt. Scheibe

Total 2017 school levy cost per thousand per student

GRANGEVILLE — “I know it’s not the best system to have property taxes bear the brunt of education costs – but what other options do we have?” questioned Mountain View School District 244 Superintendent Marcus Scheibe.

MVSD will go to the polls March 13 to request a $3,090,048 levy.

Board chair Mike Dominguez said he feels the board has been conservative with the district’s discretionary funds and now has to count on patrons to make up the difference through taxes.

“The state isn’t funding more for education – so it’s up to our communities if they want to maintain the programs we have and not take a step back,” he said.

The $3,090,048 levy comprises 23 percent of the district’s total budget amount of $13,210,582. According to district business manager Becky Hogg, the “local decision” or local board discretionary portion of the budget that is not earmarked by the state is $6,156,254, or 47 percent of the total.

Last year’s supplemental levy ($2,663,246) has now expired. The proposed new levy will increase costs for those with a $100,000 home (with homeowner’s exemption) by about $5 a month (cost was $26 a month in 2006 and will be about $31 a month for 2018).

Costs have risen slightly for each $1,000 of net taxable property value since 2013 when that cost per thousand was $3.30. In 2014, it was $3.28; $3.24 in 2015; $3.22 in 2016; $3.17 in 2017; and will be $3.67 in 2018.

Even with rising enrollment – MVSD stands at about 1,291 students currently – the rise in ADA (average daily attendance) funds will not cover what was lost from discontinued SRS (secure rural schools or “forest” funds).

“We have tightened belts in many area – but I want people to understand if the levy does not pass, we lose programs. We lose teachers. If that happens, there is no way around it – we lose families and businesses and it’s a downward spiral,” Scheibe said, emphasizing schools are an integral part of communities, and their economic well-being and growth.

In MVSD (formerly Joint School District 241) a levy has not failed since 2007. Prior to that, from 1898 to 2006, of the 18 levies run, only eight passed.

The past 11 levies have passed; the previous five levies were each for $2,663,246 each. Last year’s levy passed by $52.07 percent (levies pass on a simple majority) with 29 percent of registered voters in Idaho County making it to the polls.

Scheibe said there is always talk of what to do to save money, and while all questions and ideas are encouraged, one are that does not currently make sense is closing the Elk City School, though it only serves a handful of students.

“The district actually comes out ahead there, with what the state funds for the school,” he said.

What it comes down to, Scheibe said, is what do community members want for their schools?

“Is it worth an extra $5 to $8 a month to them?” he asked. “Without the levy, our school district will change drastically. That’s a fact.

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