When it comes to the topic of public school funding, I could easily fill up an entire page of The Summit.
State funding formulas and Iowa law related to school district funds can be complex.
As superintendent, I welcome any questions regarding funding, legislative priorities and our district’s budgeting process.
Iowa law creates several funds for school districts and each fund is allowed to be used for the purpose authorized and no other.
A wise local farmer once said to me, “Just tell me there are three corn bins and one bin can only feed chickens, one can only feed cows and one can only feed horses.” There are more than three funds, but the analogy has stuck with me.
One of the funds is called Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL).
This fund can be used for school district expenditures including energy conservation, building repairs/renovations, purchasing of buses and other school vehicles, technology and equipment exceeding $500.
Our district’s emphasis includes continued technology and security enhancements, energy efficiency projects such as LED lighting, transportation fleet rotation, playground equipment, building furnishings and the remodel of classrooms and hallways.
On September 12, we are asking voters to decide whether to approve a Voted PPEL (VPPEL) for our district.
Specifically, voters will be asked to approve a VPPEL of not to exceed $1.34/$1,000 of assessed property value blended with an income surtax to begin on 7/1/2018. The Board of Education will set the VPPEL rate annually.
Over the past few months, I have visited with many community members about the importance of this vote and want to reinforce the key points as you head to the polls.
Why a VPPEL?
Based on forecasts using current state supplemental aid distributions and student enrollment, our general fund balance, also known as unspent balance, is forecasted to be negative as early as 2022. In recent years, the state legislature has expanded the types of expenditures that are allowed in PPEL. Our district has eligible PPEL fund expenses being expended in the general fund. Our district needs to look at ways to protect our general fund.
Why a VPPEL now?
Due to several years of flat funding and the expansion of allowable expenditures in PPEL by the State of Iowa, more than 75 percent of school districts now have a VPPEL in place.
In the 2015/2016 school year alone, 28/29 districts approved a VPPEL at the polls. We are at a point where this is critically important revenue to our district.
In addition, due to the June 2018 expiration of the debt service levy, this is a net-neutral property tax implication to Forest City CSD residents and a projected increase of $.8458/$1,000 for former Woden-Crystal Lake CSD residents.
It is an increase for former WCL residents because the debt service levy was not passed along when the reorganization took place. WCL had the VPPEL in place prior to the reorganization.
There is additional information on www.forestcity.k12.ia.us.
Please contact me with any questions at 641-585-2323. We encourage all voters to head to the polls on September 12.