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Springfield School Board Approves Levy Below Voter-Approved Level

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/springfiel_1511.mp3

Earlier this week, the Springfield School Board set the district's operating levy at a level lower than what voters approved. Several teachers' groups spoke against the decision, citing the need to raise teachers' salaries. KSMU's Missy Shelton has this report.

In 2004, voters approved an operating levy of 3 dollars and 14 cents per 100 dollars of assessed valuation.

But last year, the board lowered the levy to slightly more than 3 dollars and this week, voted to raise the level to just over 3 dollars and 4 cents.

Board President Michael Hoeman says the board set the levy at the level necessary to fund the budget the board approved in the spring.

At the board meeting this week, two teachers' groups spoke against the idea of setting the levy lower than the level voters approved.

Michael Carr teaches fifth grade at Jeffries Elementary School and is President of the Springfield Missouri State Teachers Association.

He says the board should set the levy at 3 dollars and fourteen cents and use the extra money for teacher salaries.

He says the district is losing teachers.

The budget does include some perks for teachers.

Springfield School Board President Michael Hoeman says the board did identify teacher salaries as an area for improvement.

Hoeman says he wants voters to see that the board is taking good care of their money.

He says the board went through a rigorous review in the spring to identify needs.

He says it would be wrong to circumvent that process.

Teachers' groups say they understand why the district is taking this approach.

But Michael Carr with the Springfield Missouri State Teachers Association has a different perspective on keeping the public's trust.

Carr says the board's unwillingness to use all the money voters approved sends a bad message to teachers.

Carr says now that the board has set the budget and the levy, teachers have no other recourse.

Board President Michael Hoeman says the time to address teacher salaries will be next spring when the board once again prepares its budget.