? USD 411 is third school district in the county to raise local taxes to cover loss of state funding.
By a margin of nearly 4-1, Goessel Unified School District 411 became the third district in Marion County to authorize a property-tax increase to generate more money for its schools in lieu of state funding reductions.
Mail-in ballots were counted May 12, with the results being 398 yes votes and 108 no votes, an approval percentage of just under 79 percent. Voter turnout was calculated at 59.1 percent by Tina Spencer, county election officer.
?On behalf of the board of education and administration, we are exceedingly pleased and appreciative of the confidence and support of our community when it?s almost 4-1,? Superin?tend?ent John Fast said. ?I don?t think we expected it to be quite that strong.?
He said the positive vote will essentially replace the roughly $33,000 the district stands to lose next year through the state?s block-grant funding program.
?Simply having that flexibility over the next two years is crucial for us,? he added. ?We?ve been a growing district over the last five years?growing not by a lot, but five to six to seven students a year. And we anticipate growing again next year.?
The way the block grant is structured, funding is locked in for the next two years, regardless of enrollment growth.
?Which means we?re going to be penalized,? Fast said. ?We?re having to educate more students on the same amount of money. This (ballot vote) would allow some flexibility to help with that growth.?
Informing the public
Fast said he and the board didn?t assume patron support for the higher tax authorization.
?We have been meeting with a variety of different groups,? he said. ?I appreciate that the volunteer firemen invited me in and I could speak to them. I?ve visited with various coffee klatches throughout the community.
?We also sent out a couple of district flyers to all of our patrons, helping to explain what the situation is and why this is necessary.?
Fast said if the initiative had failed, that amount of funding loss would have forced some cuts in programs and departments.
?We?re fortunate we don?t have to do that,? he added. ?That is a huge thank-you to the community.?
USD 411 has been able to complete the current school without making more cuts, according to Fast.
?There have been a couple of things that have been fortunate for us,? he said. ?With fuel prices down, our transportation budget is well in the black in that area, which is going to help us out in other areas.?
The district also has benefited financially from a delayed conclusion to its recent bond project. What was first thought to be a significant inconvenience proved to have a silver lining of $13,000 to $14,000 in additional classroom funding for the next two years.
?The hope was that it would be completed by Sept. 20?that we?d get students into the classrooms,? Fast said. ?Had we been able to do that, we would have the new-facilities (state funding) weightings in effect for this year and for next year.
?Because we were not in the new facilities by Sept. 20, they postponed that, which means we will get the new-facilities weightings the next two years that block grant funding is going to be affecting us. That will help us a bit.
?If there are additional instructional items, or desks and chairs, or software supplies, or science equipment, it would be used directly in those classrooms,? Fast said.