Board Approves 61-Cent Levy Proposal for April Ballot

Board Approves 61-Cent Levy Proposal for April Ballot
Boe Web

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) -- The St. Joseph School District's Board of Education has approved a recommendation to move forward with an April ballot initiative.

The Board unanimously agreed, during Monday's special meeting, to ask voters to approve a 61-cent levy with a five-year sunset clause.

The levy, if passed, would generate approximately $6.5 million dollars annually for the district for the next five years.

Superintendent Dr. Doug Van Zyl presented a detailed plan for how that money would be spent each year during the meeting. He outlined three areas of need, including attracting and retaining teachers and staff, security upgrades and improvements and operational costs.

"We tried to gather data to make the best data-driven decision that we could," said Van Zyl.

He explained, in detail, the steps taken to determine a reasonable amount. And, he noted, that the sunset provision is important to prove to taxpayers that any additional revenue will be spent wisely.


"That [sunset] allows the public to see what we've done," said Van Zyl. "Here's what we said we were going to do. Here's what we did. We want to reestablish consistency, a solid budget and show the taxpayers we are using those dollars wisely."

Board President Seth Wright explained his desire to get the district back on track, but to do so in a way that is supported by thorough research and data as well as input he and other board members have received from taxpayers.

"[They said] we need to have a balanced budget. Check. We've done that," said Wright. "We need to reach out to the seek their ideas and their input. We did that."

Wright also pointed out other items that have been checked off the to-do list as requested including budget cuts, seeking efficiency in operations and presenting needs and a reasonable plan to invest additional revenue while making sure the funds reach the teachers and the classroom.

"These are the boxes I think the community wants checked and I think we have checked them all at the end of the day," added Wright.

Finally, Wright added, increased security is also a priority for our schools and something he believes the community wants to see.

"The last thing they said is 'if you have any money left over, make our schools safer for our kids and our staff,'" Wright said.

The Board voted 7-0 to place the initiative, Proposition 2, on the April 2019 ballot.


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