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A look at the school levy

Michael Holstine

Committee for Student Success

Like most households, there are always things on my to-do list that I just never seem to have the money to do, or when the money is saved something comes along that sidetracks the project. For instance, last year I was going to remodel the bathroom because the old original flooring had cracked and was worn out. I finally had enough money to do it, but then my refrigerator gave up the ghost. So much for the bathroom project. Decisions like these happen all the time in your house too, I’d bet. What many people don’t realize is that the same critical thinking occurs within our school system, as well. With only a set pot of money to go around, the decisions on what to pay for and what to let go occur on a regular basis. The situation with our school system, however, is worse than that. Items continually arise that can’t even be budgeted for, due to government mandates, additional services required, or revenue streams drying up, sometimes on very short notice.

That is why this year the Pocahontas County Board of Education is proposing an excess levy on the ballot in November. With so little control over the mandates thrust upon the system and the steady decrease in revenue, the levy will allow the Board to dedicate money for some sorely-needed projects that simply couldn’t be funded before. The entire levy will be dedicated to specific areas within the schools, and for programs offered throughout the county.

Let’s make no mistake. The levy is an additional tax levied against all landowners in the county. The difference between this and most any other tax is that this one is voted upon by the citizens, willingly deciding that they will pay a little something extra to ensure that the education of our children excels in a way that it could not without it. Also, the money collected will go to specific items, not co-mingled with the current general fund. Additionally, it only lasts five years before it has to be voted on again. Additionally, any money not spent in one year can carry over to the next. These are pretty good rules for hard-earned money that is willingly given.

The levy will bring to the county a little more than $1.8 million dollars per year for five years. Did you know that the expenses for the school system currently are nearly $1.3 million per month? Although most of this expense is covered by revenues from the State and Federal Governments, much is not. Two areas that are sorely lacking in funding are the vocational programs and standard instructional areas. These will receive $220,000 of the levy each year, providing supplies, materials, equipment, certifications and textbooks for current and expanded programs.

Our vocational programs are top-notch, winning so many State and National awards that it’s hard to keep track of them. It is equally impressive that they are able to accomplish this with the meager funds they have to use, demonstrating the level of dedication of the staff and students to the work they do. How nice it will be to finally have the funds provided by the levy to allow them to upgrade their equipment, pay for trips to competitions without the need for fundraisers and ensure certifications for their accomplishments. The vocational programs in Pocahontas County are some of the best in the country, and the levy will make sure they stay that way.

To be continued…

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