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Board asks Nevis for seven-year levy

Nevis School

Nevis School District voters will be heading to the polls in November to determine the fate of a proposed operating levy.

After a public hearing earlier this month, the board decided to ask voters to approve $252 per pupil, double the existing levy of $126, which expires at year's end.

Voters will also be asked to "increase general education revenue" by an additional $225 per pupil for technology. This is contingent on passage of the first question; voters cannot approve the second question without passing the $252 operating levy.

The levy would be applicable for seven years.

A special election will be held from 2:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8.

District resident Gordon Kath expressed support for doubling the operating levy but questioned earmarking funds for technology.

"You will be looking at more than $100 per home," he said of properties valued at $250,000 and above. "I think the school district could stay afloat at $252," he told the board. He questioned the need for every student to have a computer. "I don't think taxpayers will approve this," he said.

"Technology enhances learning," board chair Ed Becker told him. Technology can actually save the district money on textbooks in the long run.

"Computers are more up to date," Gary Stennes pointed out, and provide students with an "immediate response. It's not just saving money; it's a better tool."

Kath suggested the district consider a five-year, as opposed to a seven-year term of the referendum.

If voters approve "question one," $82,288 would be generated annually. If "question two" earns the nod, this would raise $73,472, totaling $155,760.

This compares with the current $39,013 raised via the operating levy. The median levy in the state is $863 per pupil. If both questions are approved, additional revenue per pupil unit would be $351.

Estimated tax impacts to property owners - residential homesteads, apartments and commercial industrial property - were calculated.

On a $100,000 home, for example, if question one is approved, the taxpayer would owe $32, a net change of $17 from the current amount. If both questions are approved, the net change to the tax bill is $46.

On a $250,000 home, question one's approval would add $43 to the current tax amount ($81 the total) and $72 for question two, a net change of $115.

Resident Justin Isaacson expressed support for the technology levy, indicating the amount is insignificant, given the impact.

In other action, the board:

n Accepted the resignation of board member Richard Schmidt, who serves as treasurer. He has accepted a job out of state.

"It has been a pleasure," Schmidt said of serving on the board.

"On behalf of the Nevis taxpayers and administration, thank you," Becker said. "There were times you turned me around 180 degrees," he said of discussions. "I appreciate that."

Because of the length of his term remaining, a year-plus, the board can advertise the position and appoint a replacement.

Deadline for applications is 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9.

n Approved a recommendation to increase substitute teacher pay from $90 to $100 a day. Classified subs' pay will remain unchanged, $9 per hour.

n Accepted a resignation from LouAnn Muhm as one-act play director.

"You won't find another director who helps students write their own play," superintendent Steve Rassier commented.

n Learned 521 students are currently enrolled for arrival this fall.

n Approved the first reading of recommended changes to policies, which include the code of ethics, out-of-state travel by board members, statutory changes regarding truth in taxation hearings, public participation in meetings and other issues.

n Learned work on the school was expected to be complete this week.