By K.D. Norris
Taking advantage of changes in state rules on how schools can spend sinking fund millage requests, and after unanimous approval by the Godfrey-Lee School Board this week, the district will put before voters on the May 8 ballot a 3-mill sinking fund request to address safety, security and technology issues.
An 2016 amendment to the state’s School Code allows expenditure of up-to-10-year, 3-mill maximum, sinking fund millage increases for additional school infrastructure uses such as technology and security upgrades in addition to building repairs and renovations.
Approval of a new sinking fund would “ease the general fund to allow as many dollars as possible to stay in the classroom,” Superintendent Kevin Polston said to WKTV. “A new eligible area of the sinking fund is technology. We currently use general fund dollars to pay for technology devices. As we know, general fund dollars fluctuate and there is no guarantee as to what we will get from year to year. Much less keeping up with inflation. The sinking fund will provide a sustainable means to provide current technology devices for our students across our K-12 system.”
The 3 mills would be collected for 10 years — 2019 to 2028 — and generate approximately $315,000 the first year. Polston said 2 mills would go toward maintenance, energy and safety and security, with 1 mill for technology.
Polston said a series of community meetings will be scheduled to discuss the tax request with residents.
“In regards to maintenance, as stewards of our taxpayers dollars, we need to maintain our buildings to provide the best learning environments we can for our students. If we do not follow a regular maintenance schedule, it will result in higher costs and less dollars going to the classroom,” Polston said.
“In addition, there are new technologies that have lower operating costs, but have an initial up front cost. An example is through the sinking fund we will install LED lighting in all of our buildings. LED lighting provides an enhanced learning environment at a significantly reduced operating costs and longer lifespan.”
The district’s previous sinking fund levy, 1.9976-mill, approved by Godfrey-Lee voters in 2009 is expiring.
According to the district, the average home value for a residence in the district is $67,169 and a homeowner with a homestead exemption is currently paying $67 per year and with the extra mill requested would see an increase of $34 for a total of $101.