SJSD Foundation begins homework on possible tax levy

The St. Joseph School District Foundation is looking for public input before proposing a new tax levy on the April ballot.

Posted: Dec. 5, 2018 11:27 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The St. Joseph School District Foundation is looking for public input before proposing a new tax levy on the April ballot.

The Foundation is working with public opinion firm American Viewpoint to conduct a phone survey to gauge community support for a new operating tax levy after a $1.15 tax levy proposal failed last November.

"The community has said in response to the failure last November is they want us to go come out with a proposal that is reasonable, that has a plan and is based upon the school district needs at this time," said St. Joseph School Board of Education President Seth Wright.

Wright said district administration has made three different proposals at 52 cents, 63 cents, and 75 cents.

"The support of the community is vital if we want the St. Joseph School District to progress and become a point of pride for this city, students, staff and the families we serve," said SJSD Foundation Chairman Ben Byrd.

The district was forced to balance a budget with a $7 million deficit after November's failed levy proposal. Without another revenue source, administrators are expecting to trim another $2.5 million to maintain its current resources.

"There just isn't a whole lot left in this district that isn't the requirements for our schools to operate and for our district to continue to move forward," said St. Joseph School District Superintendent Dr. Doug Van Zyl. "The things we will be taking a look at will have a direct impact on students and classrooms."

Teachers fear a second round of cuts could hurt the classroom.

"The teachers are saying at this point that we need this to maintain what we have, not even to expand, just to maintain what we have for our students," said Denise Peters, Missouri State Teachers Association.

Board of Education leaders are hopeful voters will support the future of the district.

"I think people want to move forward in this district," said Wright. "They want to put the past behind them and move forward and start doing what is best for the education of our kids."

The Board of Education must make a final decision on any possible levy proposal by January 22 for it to appear on the April ballot.

The phone survey calls will run through Thursday, December 6. The Foundation is covering the cost of the survey through private and corporate contributions.

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