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Springfield Schools Propose a Tax Levy Increase

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/springfiel_223.mp3

On June 8, voters in Springfield will decide if they want to approve a 25-cent operating levy increase for the public schools. KSMU's Missy Shelton recently talked with Springfield Superintendent Dr. Jack Ernst about the proposed increase.

DR. JACK ERNST SAYS OVER THE LAST FOUR YEARS, STATE FUNDING HAS DECLINED, MAKING IT DIFFICULT TO MAINTAIN FUNDING FOR ALL THE PROGRAMS THE DISTRICT OFFERS.

SO, THAT'S WHY THE SCHOOL BOARD DECIDED TO ASK VOTERS FOR A LEVY INCREASE.

MANY VOTERS LIKELY HAVE HEARD THAT LAWMAKERS RAISED EDUCATION FUNDING FOR THE FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGINS JULY FIRST.

BUT ERNST AND OTHER SCHOOL OFFICIALS ARE QUICK TO POINT OUT THAT THE INCREASE IS NOT ENOUGH TO MAKE UP FOR THE FUNDING DEFICIENCIES OF THE PAST.

AND HE SAYS EVEN WITH THE INCREASE, IT DOESN'T MEET THE STATE'S OBLIGATION UNDER THE FUNDING FORMULA...THAT'S THE MECHANISM USED TO DETERMINE HOW MUCH MONEY EACH SCHOOL DISTRICT RECEIVES FROM THE STATE.

ERNST SAYS DISTRICTS WANT TO SEE THE FORMULA FULLY FUNDED.

WHILE STATE FUNDING INCREASES HELP, ERNST SAYS THE MAJORITY OF THE DISTRICT'S FUNDING COMES FROM LOCAL TAXES.

HE SAYS THAT'S WHY THE DISTRICT IS ASKING VOTERS FOR A LEVY INCREASE.

THE DISTRICT ESTIMATES THAT THE LEVY INCREASE WOULD GENERATE 6 POINT 2 MILLION DOLLARS IN NEW REVENUE.

THAT MONEY WOULD HELP MAINTAIN EXISTING PROGRAMS, PREVENTING CUTS TO ATHLETICS, GIFTED EDUCATION, PARENTS AS TEACHERS AND BUS TRANSPORTATION.

THE ADDITIONAL TAX REVENUE WOULD ALSO FUND A 5 PERCENT COST OF LIVING INCREASE SPREAD OVER TWO YEARS FOR ALL DISTRICT EMPLOYEES.

ERNST SAYS HE BELIEVES IT'S TIME THE DISTRICT GIVE A COST OF LIVING ADJUSTMENT SINCE EMPLOYEES ARE DEALING WITH HIGHER PRICES FOR GOODS AND SERVICES.

THERE IS NO ORGANIZED OPPOSITION TO THE TAX LEVY INCREASE.

BUT FOR THOSE PEOPLE WHO DO HAVE QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS, THERE'S INFORMATION ON THE PROPOSED LEVY INCREASE ON THE WEB AT Learn More about the Levy.