As you know, the operating levy proposed by the Kimball Area School District failed by only 27 votes last week. On behalf of the Kimball Board of Education, I want to say "thank you" to everyone who supported the school and the kids by voting "yes." I also want to thank the "Your School, Your Choice!" committee members for all of their work. They spent many hours planning, developing signs, writing letters and flyers, making presentations, and calling voters.
Many people have asked, "So what now for the school?"The district has a balanced budget for this school year. So there will likelybe no changes over the next few months. We will continue to review budgets and expenses at each board meeting to try to identify any expenses which can be eliminated.
In January, we will begin to look at the next school year to determine the budget. We will look at all expenses and possible sources of revenue to continue to operate with a balanced budget. Unfortunately, we have no idea what will happen with the state funding. This year for example, they delayed 23 percent of our funding. These last-minute changes make it difficult to plan a budget.
We will have to develop a list of potential cuts to the budget. When we review these, we will try to identify items that will have the least impact on the kids. The bottom line is, the failed levy will result in the district having fewer tools needed to teach the kids. Examples of this could be fewer teaching materials, supplies, possibly delaying curriculum review and textbook purchases, no new computers or technology, fewer paraprofessionals, support staff, teachers, and administrators. There will be many meetings and conversations before any of these decisions are made.
We are disappointed that the operating levy failed. We believe that we proposed what was a very fiscally responsible levy. We proposed a levy that, if passed, would have been significantly less than most of the area districts. It would have been almost 50 percent below the state average. This levy was not about raises for staff/teachers and new programs. This was about having money to pay for the current programs.
There is a real good chance that we will be asking for another vote next year, as our existing levy will end in 2010. It is really unfortunate that we need to continue to ask the local taxpayers for an operating levy, but with the unfunded requirements of the federal and state governments and the changes in the basic funding from the state, we simply have no choice. The state has made it clear they are only providing additional funding to the local schools as matching funds when a district passes a levy.
We have a school that we can be very proud of as a community. We have excellent and dedicated teachers, staff and administrators. We have some of the best facilities in the area. We need to continue to have a strong education to keep and attract students to the school. As the largest employer in the community, it is clear the health of the community has depended on the school. This is very evident by driving through communities where there is no longer a school. Let me be very clear, Kimball Area School District is a long way from needing to consolidate with another school, but staying as an independent district can only continue with adequate funding from the state and the community.
Dr. Kurt Helgeson,
School Board Chair
Assoc. Dean, College of Science & Engineering, SCSU