The South Tama School Board voted 4-1 to cut a variety of jobs during a special session held Monday night , April 2, at the Elementary School cafeteria. The elimination of the jobs and other action was aimed at a reduction in the districts proposed 28 percent school tax levy rate.
Voting to make the cuts and approve the budget with a levy set at $16.11 per $1,000 assessed valuation compared to the original budget proposal of $17.68 were directors Michele Yuska, Ron Hala, Jackie Dvorak and Mark McFate. Director Anne Michael voted "no."
The new levy amount reflects a 15.7 percent school tax hike compared to the original 28 percent jump. It comes with a 10 percent Instructional Support levy along with a six percent income surtax.
It was not immediately reported how much the 2013 budget which had been set at $20.4 million would be reduced.
An aim of the proposed budget was to eliminate red ink in the general fund and establish a small cash reserve.
At a public hearing on March 19 after feedback was received, the budget was tabled at the meeting. A work session was held on March 26 to discuss potential budget reductions and the impact on the levy.
Prior to the vote, Board President Yuska invited members of the large crowd of more than 100 to comment on Monday night.
Five South Tama High School students started the discussion sating the value of the Band program to students. These students felt the music program which benefited every student, regardless of their economic value and also felt it was something that would benefit these students for their lifetime.
Mary Fasse-Shaw, former teacher, says South Tama can not cut anymore after the 10 percent cut last year. Fasse-Shaw has great concern about cutting elementary teachers.
Emily Babinet said we needed to keep it altogether. Giving up one piece at a time will eventually cause a complete falling apart.
Roger Wacha Jr. said, "This is a 28 percent tax increase. This will affect everyone here tonight. Tax raises affects the businessman, the farmer, the retired and all other individuals. South Tama has lost 217 students in the last five years. Is there some kind of miscommunication we are not seeing?"
Yuska then said the 28 percent increase is a section of the tax levy of the county. This levy affects only the school portion. Also, Yuska said this is the first year they have considered an Instructional Support Levy.
Many other persons from the community stated their feelings and problems with the levy before the board made comments.
Board member Anne Michael said altogether South Tama has lost over 30 people. This is due to the State of Iowa not providing funds to the public school system as needed.
Mark McFate quoted David Allen, time management expert, "You can do many things but you can not do everything". McFate said this is the position the board is in now.,
Yuska then thanked everyone for their interest. Yuska said she only want to help the kids as much as possible. Yuska said the board does not take this likely, and has spent many hours discussing and re-discussing any kind of solution they could think of to keep from increasing a tax levy.
Superintendent Kerri Nelson then thanked everyone and again explained this increase is only the school section of the county levy.
Nelson said some positions will have to be eliminated if they are to find a way to balance the 2013 budget.
Nelson believes a compromise is in order and makes the following recommendation:
eliminate the positions of-
a high school English teacher
one full-time instrumental music-band teacher by restructuring the middle school position to become a shared position between the middle school and high school
half-time science teacher
one elementary teacher (4th or 5th grade depending on class size)
one half time secretary at the elementary building
assistant coaches in the activities program including football, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls track, wrestling, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls golf, volleyball and speech.
Also, eliminate the school mail route and delay the full schedule of textbook adoptions for 2013.
In other business two resignations were accepted- Shawna Hankins as elementary special education aide, effective April 6 and Chelsea Ahrens as girls junior varsity basketball coach effective March 27; and one internal transfer was approved for Abby Gard from half-time high school science to full time middle school science, effective for the 2012-2013 term.