Proposed tax decrease at North Fayette

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Class alignment, Supt. sharing approved

 Proposed tax decrease at North Fayette

 

By Mike Van Sickle
Union editor

 

The North Fayette Board of Directors is proposing a reduction of nearly 90 cents in tax levies as part of its proposed 2014 fiscal year budget.

Superintendent Duane Willhite explained during the school board’s Tuesday, March 19, regular meeting that the proposed budget was developed assuming the Iowa Legislature and governor approve a 2-percent increase in allowable growth. While reporting this assumption establishes the highest tax rates needed, he reminded board members that they could always decrease tax rates, but not raise them after budget approval.

Some of the levy adjustments include dropping the cash reserve levy by half to $175,000 and decreasing the management levy by $50,000 (to $250,000).

Willhite noted he expects to continue dropping the cash reserve year to year until a consistent general fund balance between $850,000 to $1 million is established. This would represent a 10 to 12 percent of the school district’s annual general fund balance.

The North Fayette Board of Directors will host a budget hearing on Monday, April 8. The proposed North Fayette fiscal year budget includes an estimated property tax asking of approximately $14.90 (per $1,000 taxable valuation).

The board will host the public hearing on the proposed budget in the North Fayette High School library at 7 p.m. Monday, April 8. 

Any resident or taxpayer will have the opportunity to present objections to, or arguments in favor of, any part of the proposed budget during the school district’s budget hearing.

Hawkeye center to be closed

Earlier, with no one from the general public speaking in favor of or against the proposed closing of the Hawkeye attendance center and related classroom realignment, the school board unanimously approved both measures.

Willhite said there are no plans to sell the building in the first year of its closing. He said the Hawkeye building would continue to be maintained by the school district to allow for it to be utilized as a school bus pickup/drop-off point. 

The North Fayette administrator noted that Hawkeye community members are contemplating future uses of the building and grounds. 

The realignment includes moving fifth- and sixth-grade students to Fayette. All other younger students would attend the West Union attendance center.

Due to the recent North Fayette Valley whole-grade sharing agreement, high school students of the two neighboring school districts will attend the high school in West Union. Meanwhile, all seventh- and eighth-grade students will go to Valley.

While discussing enrollment figures, Willhite reported that three additional children were registered by the March 1 deadline to open-enroll out of the school district next year. He noted that two of those three students are homeschooled.

At the same time, 10 new children were registered to open-enroll into the school district. But, he explained, eight of those potential students are from Valley, and due to the whole-grade sharing agreement with North Fayette and the related state regulations, those students would not be able to ride shuttle busses if their families chose to carry through with open-enrolling into North Fayette.

North Fayette had 69 students open-enroll out to 12 school districts in 2012-2013, while 17 open-enrolled in from five school districts.

Shared superintendent agreement

In addition, the school board on Tuesday approved a proposal to share Willhite’s superintendent duties next year with Valley. The Valley Board of Education approved the proposal during its regular session on Monday, March 18.

The agreement is for the 2013-2014 school year. Willhite’s duties, salary, and benefits will be split 60 percent (NF) and 40 percent (Valley). The agreement will automatically renew July 1 of each succeeding fiscal year without any action by the parties.

It was agreed by both school districts that the time spent in the Valley district by Willhite may need to be greater than 40 percent in order to promote a smooth transition and gain knowledge of the Valley Community School District in the first year of the whole-grade sharing agreement.

North Fayette’s salary/benefits portion of the contract will total approximately $110,000, while Valley will be responsible for approximately $73,000. Valley will reimburse North Fayette quarterly. 

Willhite said the contract is similar to the one North Fayette previously shared with Turkey Valley and former Superintendent John Rothlisberger. 

North Fayette or Valley may terminate the agreement with or without cause by providing written notice to the other party on or before Jan. 30 for the upcoming fiscal year. Either party may terminate the agreement for cause on 30 days written notice.

In other business, the school board:

• Approved the design of a new, additionally secured entrance to the West Union Elementary attendance center.

• Approved the bid for mowing of all school grounds from Osmundson Lawn Care.

 • Approved the snow removal bid from Super Landscaping for West Union school grounds; Fayette Lumber for Fayette school grounds; Russ Amos for Hawkeye school grounds.

• Approved sand/brine bid from Kevin Cline.

• Agreed to supporting the renaming of the future North Fayette Valley FFA Chapter to “Echo Valley FFA” for the current Chapter members of both North Fayette and Valley. 

• Approved resignations of Jim Hanson, head varsity girls’ basketball coach; Steve Heyer, assistant varsity boys’ basketball coach.

• Approved naming of Bob Scott as volunteer track coach.

(Editor’s note: The North Fayette Board of Directors met in regular session on Tuesday, March 19, due to the inclement weather on Monday, March 18.)

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