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home : news : news Friday, April 29, 2016

3/29/2014 Email this articlePrint this article 
Northeast proposes tax of $14.82 per $1,000 valuation

By Jeremy Huss
Staff writer

Officials in the Northeast Community School District hope to keep the property tax levy unchanged under a proposed budget for the 2014-15 school year.

The budget proposes a tax rate of $14.82 per $1,000 property valuation. It is the same rate the board approved for the current school year, although business manager Kristy Weiss noted the district was able to lower the levy after the budget was published to an actual rate of $14.65 per $1,000.

The rate includes a general fund levy of $9.65, a management levy of $1.35, a $1 physical plant and education levy and a debt service levy of $2.82.

The levy will generate $1.7 million in revenue from property taxes based on a district-wide taxable valuation of $187 million.

The budget includes $42,527 in commercial and industrial property tax replacement dollars. The legislature allocated the replacement funds to backfill revenue lost as a result of a commercial property tax reform bill approved last year.

The legislature has allocated replacement dollars for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 budgets, but the funds will sunset after two years, Weiss said.

The board reviewed a list of historical property tax rates in surrounding school districts, which range from $11.24 at Bennett Community Schools to $17.11 at Davenport Community Schools. Superintendent Jim Cox said there's a danger in comparing rates because each district has different facilities and needs.

He noted Delwood schools have a low rate, but the district has no high school, and pointed out $2.81 of Northeast's rate is due to the bond issue for the ongoing gym and classroom addition.

"I think the rate is very reasonable with the infrastructure we have," Cox said.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. April 8 in the elementary school library.

Board pulls the reins on technology changes

Changes to the district's technology program will be put on hold until new science classrooms are completed, Cox reported.

The board reviewed the proposed changes last month, which would reduce Northeast's contract for technology services with consulting firm Twin State and use the savings to establish a joint teaching/technology position.

The employee would spend one-quarter of their time teaching calculus, robotics and programming and the remainder providing on-site technical assistance.

Cox said he was postponing a decision on the changes until the new classrooms are built in order to better plan how to incorporate it with a new focus on STEM courses (science, technology, engineering and math).

"I think it would be prudent to delay it for a year or so. If we don't have our ducks in order before we move into this, it'll be a disaster," Cox said.

High school principal Alicia Christiansen said there were concerns the district was putting the cart before the horse, especially with several upcoming events focused on STEM curriculum.

Christiansen said she wants the district to have a three- to four-year vision on how to sustain and grow its STEM curriculum and noted grant opportunities exist to potentially defray costs.

"As in the past, we'll take time to change like we did with 1:1 (computers for students) and the block schedule," Cox said.

Other business

In other business March 19, the board:

•Accepted the resignation of Karin Harmsen as school-to-work coordinator. Harmsen worked for the district for 15 years.

•Approved a change order on a contract with Iowa Direct Equipment adding $5,100 in costs for a batting cage.

•Approved 10 payments to contractors for work completed under contracts previously approved by the board.

•Approved the sale of a 2000 GMC 8-passenger bus to John Eberhart for $2,100 and the sale of a 1996 Bluebird 65-passenger bus to Curt Marzofka for $1,725.

•Approved a 28E agreement for a shared wrestling program with Easton Valley Community Schools for the 2014-15 school year.

•Approved the 2013-14 school year master seniority list.

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