Madison-Plains school board talks cuts, levies


(Posted Dec. 24, 2017)

By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer

Madison-Plains Schools leaders continue to weigh options for staving off a projected deficit in operating funds.

Board members and board member-elect Cory Coburn met Dec. 13 to talk about ways to raise revenue and cut costs. (Elected in November, Coburn is replacing outgoing board member Mike Datz who chose not to run for re-election.)

“We are at the point where we have to make a decision and what is the next step,” said Superintendent Tim Dettwiller.

Voters approved renewal of a permanent improvement levy in the November election, but rejected the district’s request for new operating funds in the August special election.

Historically, November is the best time to put a money issue on the ballot. while August is the worst, Dettwiller said. State leaders have done away with special elections in February and are trying to do the same with special elections in August, the superintendent added.

In talking about the possibility of asking for an income tax, Dettwiller noted that several districts adjacent to Madison-Plains are supported by a combination of income tax and property tax. Madison-Plains’ previous requests for an income tax have failed.

Benefits of an income tax, Dettwiller said, include the fact that renters pay as well as property owners, and such a tax can be continuing or term-limited.

District Treasurer Todd Mustain said a 1 percent income tax would bring in $1.9 million per year. A 1.25 percent income tax would bring in $2.4 million per year.

Teacher Christina Finney said she has talked to fellow teachers and residents about their ideas for saving money in the district. One suggestion, she said, is to cut busing, but when pressed to supply further details, she said the person who suggested it did not elaborate. Another idea, she said, is to extend the school day and call off classes on Monday or Friday, thus instituting a four-day school week.

Attrition–not filling staff vacancies as they occur–is a hard sell, said Datz about another possible cost-saving measure. About any cuts, fellow board member Mark Mason said, “We have a lot to sell.”

The Dec. 13 meeting was the board’s second meeting in as many nights. They held their regular monthly meeting on Dec. 12. Highlights included:

– acceptance of the retirement of first-grade teacher Julie Rapp who has worked for the district for 29 years;

– authorization for Business Professionals of America students to travel to the Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center to attend regional competition on Jan. 10.

– authorization for Civic-English II sophomores to travel to Philadelphia and New York City April 18-21 to learn more about The Enlightenment, The Revolution, immigration, urbanization and industry. Students will cover all travel expenses.

The board’s next meeting is set for Jan. 9 in the board meeting room in the elementary building.

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