A variety of issues were addressed by the Emmetsburg Community Schools Board of Education during their Jan. 23, meeting at the high school. Among the items discussed was support of a resolution that would make the SILO tax fairer for all Iowa school districts.
According to Superintendent John Joynt, the Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB) requested that each school board in Iowa pass a resolution supporting passage of a state-wide SILO tax.
Joynt explained that every county in Iowa has voted for the one-cent SILO (School Infrastructure Local Option) sales tax, although changes are needed to make the tax more equitable for all schools. Most schools have a cap of $575 per student. However, there is more money being collected than is being given out and removing that cap would provide over $100 more per student.
“If they lifted the cap this year, we could possibly get $80,000 more next year,” said Joynt. “It would do nothing but increase as sales increase throughout the state.”
Joynt continued, “At one time, we were involved in looking into a lawsuit when this first started because we would only get $300 to $400 per student whereas sales tax rich counties were getting $1,200 per student. That’s a great disparity. If a state-wide sales tax were passed with an actual average used, our district SILO would increase to about $730 per student in five years.”
Joynt noted that the increase would lower property taxes and eliminate the local debt service property tax that pays for the construction bond for the Middle School/auditorium/gymnasium building project.
“Remember, we voted for a bond at $2.70 per $1,000, and we fulfilled our promise to the voters,” Joynt said, adding that the school district has used all of their SILO money and half of their PPEL (Physical Plant & Equipment Levy) money to pay down the bond.
“This year the taxpayers are paying 22 cents per $1,000 for the construction project. This $80,000 would wipe that out. That would be 22 cents less in property tax, and we’d still have more money to accumulate for building projects and other things,” Joynt stated.
“What year does our SILO end?” asked Dave VanOosbree, board member.
“I think 2011, and then we have a re-vote,” answered Joynt. “It’s good for ten years.”
With no further discussion, the board unanimously voted to pass the resolution.
In other business, the board approved early retirement requests from Jerry Strand and Kathy Strand. The instructors have each worked for the school district for 30 years. Jerry Strand is athletic director for the district and teaches ag education at the high school. Kathy Strand is a special education teacher at West Elementary. In related business, the resignation of Kim Traub as eighth grade volleyball coach was approved contingent upon finding a suitable replacement. A contract was also offered to Jan McCombs for a paraeducator preschool position at the West Elementary School.
Drop-out prevention was also discussed during the meeting. Joynt proposed increasing the use of drop-out prevention funding by adding a tutor at the West Elementary and a dean of students for 5-12 students.
A tutor at the elementary level is needed because there has been a decrease in Title I funding that formerly supported reading programs.
At the middle and high school levels, a dean of students would basically act as an assistant principal, but would not need an administrator’s degree. It is also hoped that the dean of students could fill the upcoming athletic director vacancy created by the retirement of Jerry Strand. Joynt explained that maximizing drop-out-prevention funding would raise the school district’s spending authority.