Voters in the Le Mars Community School District will have to decide whether to allow the district to use a state financial support program that involves property tax.
A petition for a vote on the Le Mars Community Schools' participation in the Iowa Instructional Support Program has been filed with the district's board secretary. More than 160 Le Mars Community School district residents signed the petition, which was filed Wednesday. One hundred signatures were needed to call for the vote.
The LCS board of education passed a resolution following a Dec. 21 public hearing to participate in the program as a funding source for the district for a five year-period.
The program, funded by instructional support state aid and a combination of instructional support property tax levied annually upon the taxable property within the district and an instructional support income surtax imposed annually, allows the board to collect revenue for the ongoing programs and services of the school district.
"Basically, we're starting the process over again even though we tried to start it through a board resolution," said Superintendent Dr. Todd Wendt. "On Jan. 28, the board will adopt a resolution to participate in the instructional support program and hold an election."
The board will conduct a public hearing on Feb. 11, and then announce the call for an election on March 18.
The ballot will ask district voters to authorize the program for a period of 10 years.
If passed the instructional support program becomes effective July 1, 2008, according to Wendt.
Wendt said he was not surprised by the petition for an election.
"We expected it. Obviously we were hoping it didn't occur. Now there's an added cost to the district for the election," he said. "The people in the communty need to voice their opinion through an election. That's the way our system works."
In October, the board received the Oct. 1, 2007 certified enrollment figures reporting a loss of 81 students for the 2007-08 school year.
The board made the decision to pursue the instructional support program as a funding source for the district because of the loss of state revenue due to the enrollment loss.
Currently 340 of the 360 school districts in Iowa use the instructional support program.
The board on Jan. 7 held a special meeting to look at $500,000 in proposed budget cuts for the 2008-09 school year. At that meeting Wendt told the board and those attending the meeting that if an election were petitioned and the (instructional support program) levy is not passed, the board will need to make another $600,000 in cuts to the budget.