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Nevada School Board plans to increase levy

The Nevada School Board has set a public hearing for the district’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget for April 14 at 6:30 p.m.

The board has already approved a preliminary levy of 16.6 per thousand of valuation, as recommended by adminstration, and the board is considering taking that levy even higher, to 17.25 per thousand of valuation. The current levy is 15.71.

Why is the levy going up?

This fall, Dr. Steve Gray, Nevada superintendent of schools, said he sat down with every employee of the Nevada School District to discuss current needs and answer the question, “How do we get better?”

From those discussions, he said, the administration and board of directors began to work to prioritize the district’s needs identified by staff. Gray said they worked to develop a sequence or “course of action,” defined in a five-year plan. The plan included building and grounds, business, curriculum and programming, food service, the Nevada Community Resource Center, professional development, transportation and more. This five-year plan was further shaped during the school board’s annual retreat in October.

“New General Fund spending for year one of the plan,” Gray said, “was estimated at $387,000. The bulk of this new budget was in the addition of personnel, as identified by the fall needs assessment with staff.” Positions and programs identified as being needed included: elementary reading specialist, summer school reading program, assistant middle school principal, English and language learner, elementary physical education, high school’s Project Lead the Way, elementary guidance and elementary special education.

In January of this year, the school board gave Gray the go-ahead to proceed with the plan and necessary hiring. Gray said the public can view the full five-year plan on the district’s website under the “district” tab.

Last week, given the projected fiscal year 2015 costs, the anticipated increases after collective bargaining with the teacher’s union and other anticipated increases, Gray and the district Business Manager Brian Schaeffer brought the proposal of a 16.6 levy to the board. It was noted, Gray said, that revenues are also expected to increase next year given growth in enrollment.

During last week’s meeting, board President Marty Chitty addressed the board about the debt service portion of the overall levy, a discussion that the board had previously had earlier in the school year.

The debt service portion of the overall levy is currently set at 2.04872. Chitty reminded the board that they had discretion with that portion of the levy up to 2.70. Although an additional .65128 in debt service would take the overall levy proposal from 16.6 to 17.25, Chitty reminded the board that the long-term savings to the taxpayers (in bond interest savings) would be substantial. Chitty also indicated that by making that difficult decision now, the district would be in a better position to address the pressing needs of the middle school facility in five to six years.

Chitty asked the board to consider the additional raising of the levy for its April 14 hearing.

To give perspective, the approved increase of the levy to 16.6 per thousand of valuation means that a home assessed at $100,000 would see an increase of $73.28 for the year in taxes.

Nevada’s levy rates were at 16.59 back in the 2004-05 fiscal year, and they stayed in a range of 16 to as high as 17.76 until the 2011-12 school year, when they dropped to 15.61, maintaining close to that for the past three school years.

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