USC seeks to raise levy
United South Central School District residents will vote on a new excess operating levy in November and the district’s principals have agreed to a pay freeze.
School board members Tuesday night unanimously approved a resolution allowing voters to decide if the current levy should be revoked and replaced with a higher amount.
Superintendent Jerry Jensen says the board discussed placing a referendum on the general election ballot during a special board meeting held July 6.
The present levy is $1,000 per pupil unit and expires in two years. The new levy would be increased to $1,200 per pupil and would last for 10 years.
Jensen says district officials are concerned about the state’s budget problems and how that affects funding for education.
Jensen informed the board he’s been told the state may borrow money from districts in September by withholding aid payments.
“Increasing the levy won’t get the district out of the woods by any means. It would help stabilize the district’s finance and allow us to focus on facility issues,” says Jensen.
Board members approved hiring a financial advisor to help with the referendum campaign and determine what the tax impact will be for property owners.
In other action, the board:
• Approved a two-year master contract for elementary school principal Tracy Frank and high school principal Kelly Schlaak.
The new agreement does not call for any pay raises, however, two items will be increased.
The district’s annual contribution to the principals’ retirement fund will go from $1,750 to $2,500. Also, the monthly cell phone allowance increases from $20 to $60.
Frank will be paid an annual salary of $80,727 and Schlaak will earn $79,104.
• Accepted the resignation of board member Ron Korn because of medical reasons.
Nancy Ulrich, who has served on the board, was appointed to serve the remainder of Korn’s term that expires at the end of December.
• Learned the district did not make Adequate Yearly Progress as required by the No Child Left Behind Law.
Students failed to achieve acceptable test scores in seven areas:
• all students in math;
• math, Hispanic students;
• math, white students;
• reading, special education;
• math, free/reduced priced lunch students;
• reading, free/reduced priced lunch students;
• reading, special education elementary students.
Because the district did not make adequate yearly progress in reading for a second straight year, an improvement plan must be developed.
Letters will be sent out to parents in back-to-school packets informing them of the district’s AYP status.
A leadership team of five to nine people will start working on the plan in August.