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Meeting on Firth levy draws a crowd

April 22, 2011

FIRTH – The Firth school board has asked voters in the its district to pass a $300,000 per year supplemental levy for two years. The vote will be Tuesday, May 17, in the elector’s regular polling place.
Thursday night, trustees presented a PowerPoint presentation before 110 people.
“This supplemental levy is not meant to increase or enhance our programs but to maintain it,” Board Chairman Barlow Cook said.
“It comes down to a matter of trust,” committee member Ron Carlson said. “Our elected board members said we need a supplemental levy.
“Where we are is a result of what the federal system has imposed on us,” Carlson said. “I like government the closest level to the people.
“What happens to this levy will dictate the kind of education we can have for our kids,” he said.
“Now we have no options,” Carlson said. “I trust the people who have made this decision.”
Not everyone supports this proposed levy.
“I think it stinks,” said James Rundle.
Concerns were expressed about increased taxes for people who are having difficulty paying their mortgage or paying for food to feed their kids.
“With all the possible taxes coming from the federal government, I don’t know if we can afford more taxes,” one woman said.
One question which people asked the board members more than once was, “What are you doing to insure that in two years, you are not asking us to once more fund a supplemental levy?”
Ideas presented centered on a four-day school week, consolidation and open enrollment.
In consolidation, each district takes on the other district’s debt, one board member said.
“If we consolidate, our taxes will definitely go up,” Carlson said.
“I am not willing to nickel-and-dime my children’s education,” said committee coordinator Liz Killpack. “We need to be prudent and responsible and the board has done that.
“For what we have here in Firth, I think people should be flocking to come here,” Killpack said.
“Are we administration-heavy?” asked Shirley Thompson.
“No, we have as many administrators as the state allows us; that’s 3.2 administrators,” said Superintendent Sid Tubbs.
Those administrators are Jeff Gee at the high school, Deanne Dye at the middle school and the superintendent. Dave Mecham at the elementary school is paid as a supervisor.
So how much will this proposed supplemental levy cost?
Taxes are assessed on a specific number of mills, a monetary unit equal to one thousandth of a U.S. dollar. In the Firth School District, one mill equals $0.00178.
The cost of this proposed $300,000 per year supplemental levy would by the taxable evaluation of a person’s property multiplied by $0.00178.

If a person’s property was valued at $100,000, the taxes on the property would cost $178.41 per year or $14.86 each month.
If a person’s property was valued at $200,000, the taxes on the property would cost $356.82 per year or $29.73 each month.
Many in attendance expressed support for teachers.
"I think teachers should be respected and supported, not threatened," said Angela Carlson.
A supplemental levy would be used for teachers, salaries and benefits. With the passage of this levy, the district would
· maintain current class size
· maintain staff to student ratio
· maintain five-day week
· maintain activities and building usage
· lessen the impact of reduced state funding for salaries, benefits, textbooks and technology.
If the supplemental levy does not pass, the trustees are examining these possibilities:
· Three teaching positions would need to be eliminated.
· Reduction in classified staff, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, etc.
· Four-day school week with the hours students attend class each day lengthened.
· Cuts to supplies, technology, textbooks and other programs.
· An increase to all fees, for example, fees could double for registration, building usage, activities and athletics.
Board member Ramona Mitchell asked patrons who have something against the district to talk to the board members.
“We cannot be responsible about what we don’t know,” Mitchell said.
Committee member Lisa Jolley said there is a grievance policy in place.
“Go through the grievance policy. Start by talking to the teacher, “ she said. “You may need to follow up.”
People were encouraged to contact school board members or committee members with questions or concerns.

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