Le Mars Community School District voters will decide whether to approve an Instructional Support Levy on the Sept. 13 ballot.
A resolution to participate in the instructional support program for the district was approved by LCS board of education members Monday. The decision includes placing it on the ballot this fall.
The Instructional Support Levy (ISL) is a tax levied for use by school districts to provide money for the general fund of the district.
The approval followed a public hearing on the resolution.
No one attended the meeting to address the board on the issue.
As proposed in the resolution, the ISL could be levied for up to five years. The levy asking would not exceed 5 percent of the total regular program district costs for the budget year.
The instructional support program will be paid for by instructional support state aid, if available, and property tax levied annually in the school district.
The money received from the ISL may be used for any general fund purpose, which includes salaries, education supplies and utilities.
After asking for public input three times at Monday's meeting, board president Patrick Murphy turned to board members for any comments.
Member Mark Stelzer said he felt the ISL is a good idea at this time because it will bring net revenue to the district without raising overall taxes with the $1 voter-approved Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) ending in June 2012.
That 10-year PPEL levy was implemented to pay for construction of additions to Clark and Kluckhohn Elementary Schools. When that was paid, the levy was used for paying back bonds for the Phase I construction project.
With that PPEL levy ending, Stelzer said the ISL levy will shift the emphasis of tax dollars toward instructional support, such and textbooks and teacher salaries.
The district receives money from the statewide one-cent sales tax for infrastructure support (formerly known as SILO). This only pays for items such as busses, computers, building construction and upkeep.
"Now we're short-changed in instructional support," said Stelzer.
He said the ISL would allow the district, without increasing any tax, to be financially responsible without increasing taxes.
The property tax rate for the 2011-12 school year is $13.72 per $1,000 of valuation.
Superintendent Dr. Todd Wendt presented information to the board indicating that with the PPEL levy ending, district property owners would not see an increase in the tax rate and have the potential for a tax rate decrease.
"We may be looking at $13.44 in a couple years," Wendt said.
The Le Mars Community District is one of only a few in the state that does not have an ISL in place, according to Murphy.
In three previous attempts to implement the ISL, the board asked for a combination of property tax and income tax surtax to fund the program.
Wendt pointed out the board has changed its focus on the ISL from 10 years to five years and from up to 10 percent asking up to 5 percent.
This resolution also calls for all property tax, rather than a mix of property tax and income tax surtax as had been made in previous attempts to pass the ISL funding.
"This time we have the statewide sales tax to help with infrastructure," Wendt said.
Board members approved the resolution on a unanimous vote.
The resolution question will be on the Sept. 13 ballot at which time school district voters will elect four directors to the LCS board of education.
Those board members whose terms are up for election are Dan Smith, District 5; Mark Hemmingson, District 3; and Mark Stelzer and Patrick Murphy, at-large seats. Smith had announced earlier he would not seek re-election. As of Monday evening, no papers had been filed with the board secretary for any of the seats.