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Congratulations to the Osage Volleyball team on its State Tournament appearance. What a fun season and group of young ladies. We had a great crowd attend and it was inspiring to see so much Kelly Green in Cedar Rapids.

Our farmers have been blessed with great weather to gather the bountiful harvest.

American Education Week was Nov. 13-18, and it presented all Americans with a wonderful opportunity to celebrate public education and honor individuals who are making a difference in ensuring that every child receives a quality education.

The theme for 2017; "Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility," rings so true and we are blessed with great schools here in Iowa and Mitchell County. In an attitude of gratitude, we want to thank our staff who works hard to ensure all kids have opportunities for some great things in our Osage Schools.

As the seasons change, many students are also bouncing basketballs on the court and grappling on wrestling mats. DECA students continue to study for competitions, band and choir students prepare for winter concerts, and students are continuing to excel in the classrooms. It is a time of gratitude and I am thankful for our students and staff who drive us to excellence each day. Thank you to the community as you continue to support our school. Please contact me with any questions you may have.

With a new legislative season ahead, I feel it necessary to share a priority many rural school districts in Iowa have and want our legislators to prioritize. Here are the Legislative brief on the SAVE tax extension (NOT a new tax) as written by Rural School Advocates of Iowa (RSAI):

State Penny for School Infrastructure Extension: RSAI calls on the Iowa Legislature to extend or repeal the sunset of the state penny for school infrastructure.

Since voters in Iowa’s 99 counties approved the sales tax for public schools, any change in use of the revenue in the extension should be dedicated to educational purposes only. Rural schools in Iowa have been using this fund to improve facilities without going to a public election for a General Obligation Bond, which would increase property taxes.

Typically bonding for construction goes out up to 20 years. With the sunset just 12 years away, it is becoming more and more difficult for schools to generate enough funds for needed projects before the sunset of the SAVE fund. This will cause a districts to pursue more general obligation bonds in the future.

Another advantage to the SAVE fund is our 1:1 computer programs. Many districts in Iowa are providing technology to students in order to assure these students are gaining the technology skills necessary for their future. This would not be possible if the SAVE fund wasn't available to purchase or lease these computers.

SAVE funds are also used to purchase district equipment such as school buses. If we had to purchase school buses from our general fund, we would be taking funds that should be used for teacher salaries and supplies and textbooks. By purchasing buses and other major equipment with SAVE funds rather than General Funds, we are able to better serve the academic goals of our students.

The SAVE fund is having an academic impact on Iowa students, but if the sunset is not repealed it will not be long before students and property tax payers will feel the negative impacts.

The following chart shows the impact of SAVE funds on the number of General Obligation Bond Elections.

The Osage Community School can borrow against the remaining 12 years of the SAVE to make some of the many needed infrastructure improvements. If the SAVE is extended or the sunset removed, the district would be able to make all the improvements needed without a bond issue.

Please help our legislators understand this is an important issue to rural Iowa’s future.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns as we continue to make our students the best they can be.

Barb Schwamman is superintendent for Osage Schools.


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