KOSHKONONG -- Koshkonong School Superintendent Steve Morgan and the board of education in the Oregon-Howell School District are asking the voters of the school district to pass a tax levy increase on the Aug. 8 ballot.
Morgan said a proposed 78-cent increase in the current $2.75 tax levy would generate more funding. He said this would allow the school to redistribute school funds without costing taxpayers more than they pay now.
The superintendent said according to the new state funding formula for schools, schools with 350 students or fewer, such as Koshkonong, will get funds from a new, small school fund. He said millions of dollars will be distributed statewide according to average daily attendance, with his school district receiving some $80,000.
Morgan said the new formula sets aside an additional $5 million to be distributed to schools with a $3.43 or more assessed valuation tax levy, also figured on attendance, which could mean an additional $57,000 for the school if the tax levy is increased.
He said those numbers were figured on last year's attendance of 268 and the increase would take effect this fiscal year.
State guidelines regulate money transfers between a school district's four fund balances as well as what each fund can be used for. The superintendent said if the tax levy is approved, the district will be able to lower the debt service by the same amount.
"Debt service now costs Koshkonong School District patrons 81 cents per $100 assessed valuation, and that added to the $2.75 tax levy makes the district tax rate $3.56," Morgan said.
"If the tax levy increase is approved, the debt service will be lowered to 78 cents, which means patrons will pay a $3.43 tax levy and a 3-cent debt service, for a total district tax rate of $3.56," he said.
Morgan said the debt is a bond passed four years ago by voters to fund a new elementary school and it includes a sunset clause calling for its end when the debt is paid in full in 2022.
"I checked with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the district's bank, a bonding attorney and the state auditor's office to make sure this plan is legitimate, and they all agreed that nothing in the new funding formula prohibits schools like Koshkonong from implementing the plan, he said.
Morgan said the best thing that could happen is the district voters will vote Aug. 8 to increase the operating levy and the students will continue to receive an additional $137,000 in state funding at no additional cost to the patrons.
He said the worst situation that could happen is the patrons vote no on the issue and students don't get the $57,000 contingent on the tax levy amount, or if patrons approved the increase but the small schools fund is removed from the finding formula.
The superintendent said no matter what, taxes will not be raised.