Mill levy funds will be used

To the editor:

Since November's election, the Mill Levy Committee has continued to stay informed as to planned use of the additional school district funds generated by the passage of the mill levy.

We have heard some concern from the community about the use of the funds and the absence of an immediate increase in compensation for the teaching staff. We hope to clarify some issues for the community.

The school budget runs from July 1 to June 30 each year. Once the budget is finalized in January of each year, the school needs to operate according to that budget. By the end of December 2012 the school district had some concrete information they needed to proceed with the budget year: the October enrollment of students (which increased), the per-pupil state funds they were to receive (which decreased) and the knowledge that the mill levy had passed. With this information, the school board made the decision to unfreeze the teachers "steps", a type of automatic raise that had been put on hold. Consequently a slight raise for teachers occurred in February 2013.

The mill levy funds are beginning to trickle in as the community begins to pay this year's property taxes. Those funds are committed to the next school year's budget - beginning in July 2013 and running through June 2014. Raises for teachers will be included in that budget. Teachers' contracts for the upcoming school year will be determined in May 2013, and increased paychecks will begin when the school year starts in September of this year.

This has certainly been a learning experience for our Committee and definitely confusing, to say the least. The district fiscal year budget, the teachers' contractual teaching year and the timing of the mill levy funds are all based upon different dates, making it frustrating to try to understand why an increase in teacher compensation has not occurred more quickly.

As part of the upcoming budget planning process, the School Board plans to include increases to teacher salaries. The Mill Levy Committee plans to follow this process and stay informed. The Mill Levy was passed by our community with the understanding that those funds will be used for programs and retention of highly qualified staff. Both the School District and the Mill Levy Committee are committed to seeing this happen.

The Mill Levy Committee