The Press Newspaper
Two days after they’ve had a chance to tour the district’s new high school building, voters in the Lake School District will decide the fate of yet another operating levy.
A 6.75-mill, 3-year levy that will generate about $1.47 million annually if approved will be on the Aug. 7 ballot.
Voters rejected requests for an additional 4.75 mills last August and November, prompting the board to enact a wide range of spending cuts that will remain in effect even if the proposed levy is passed Tuesday.
In March, when the school board announced it was proceeding with the cuts and a reduction in force, it pointed to the loss of federal, state, and local revenues totaling $1.17 million and as well as a loss of about $426,000 in local government funds from real estate collections.
To help offset those losses, the board approved about $1.15 million in spending cuts that included closing Walbridge Elementary School at the end of the 2011-12 school year.
Personnel positions to feel the budgetary axe included:
• Eight classroom teachers, one guidance counselor, and one nurse.
• Thirteen assistant coaches.
• Three co-curricular positions.
• Three custodians, one maintenance employee, two bus divers, three study-hall monitors, and two secretary positions.
Three of the eight teachers to lose their jobs were kindergarten teachers. The board voted in the spring to reduce the kindergarten program to a part-time program.
Jeff Carpenter, district treasurer, last week said he is projecting a $400,000 deficit in the general fund by January 2013 without additional revenues or spending cuts.
The projected deficit had been significantly higher, he said, before the cuts announced in March went into effect in May.
“Passage of the levy will prevent the need for further layoffs, It will not allow us to bring back those positions that have been cut,” Carpenter said, adding there has been no discussion about what positions would be impacted by additional layoffs if the levy fails.
Building open house Sunday
The building retains some features of the former high school, including a fixed-seat auditorium and a field house – which the public indicated it wanted, according to the school board.
After a June 2010 tornado destroyed their former school, high school students have been attending classes for two years at a leased facility on Tracy Road, which they’ve dubbed “The Hangar.”
The new building covers about 143,000-square-feet – about 20,000 more than the former building.
Board members and the administration have been emphasizing in their levy promotional materials that the new building was constructed with an insurance payment and not with tax dollars.