Only five weeks remain before voters begin to receive ballots for the May 21 special election. One measure, 20-215, seeks to renew the five-year local option levy for Siuslaw schools at the same rate passed in May 2009 — 75 cents per $1,000 assessed property value. If approved by voters, it is hoped to bring about $1 million per year in additional operating funds, all of which will stay in the district.
Those funds have helped pay for teachers, kept class sizes at a reasonable level, allowed the school to maintain a full school year, and helped to partially support athletic programs, which also rely on 20 percent fundraising.
It is more than a year before the levy expires in June 2014, but the school board decided to pursue a low-cost, low-key campaign now. Even with the Oregon legislature making changes to the Public Employees Retirement System and adopting other measures to increase school funding, levy revenue will still be needed, according to school officials.
School board member Michelle Rose said a projected $700,000 shortfall and the effects of tax compression prompted the formation of a board subcommittee to work toward levy renewal, with hope of alleviating some of the uncertainty surrounding school funding.
Compression, a result of Measure 5 tax limits and decreasing property market values, has reduced available levy funds locally.
District Business Manager Kari Blake shared some bleak figures.
“We need to cut $700,000 from next year’s budget and that is with local option levy funds,” she said.
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