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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow JOSEPH SCHOOLS SEEK LEVY


By Gary Fletcher

Observer Staff Writer

JOSEPH — The Joseph School District hopes voters in November will pass a five-year tax levy of $287,000 to help make up for the lack of funding from the state.

District patrons are invited to a meeting at 7 tonight at Community Bank in Joseph to organize a group to get the vote out to support the local option serial levy.

The levy would add $1.50 a year per $1,000 of assessed property value on each property.

These funds would be for operational expenses to keep the quality of education at the current level, said Cindy Bailey, a parent supporting the levy.

The funds are needed to employ teachers, keep class sizes down, retain the art, music, home economics, vocational agriculture and yearbook programs, and replace outdated textbooks, if in fact, state funding is enough to maintain the other required core programs, Bailey said.

The school board decided last week to ask for a levy in the Nov. 5 election.

"Superintendent Richard Graham, the school board and the administration are trying desperately to juggle the budget," Bailey said.

The district has already decided not to replace two retiring and resigning teachers and to eliminate a janitor position.

The reductions will result in a class availability problem, Bailey said. Required core classes are still available, but not as often as before because teachers have to double up to cover assignments, she said. A student may not be able to take all the classes he or she wants because, for example, a core class and an elective may be offered at the same time.

The state has been continually reducing school funding. Graham has seen $220,000 cut from state funding recently, leaving the district with a $2.4 million budget.

"This levy is the only avenue to provide school support in a sure way," Graham said. "It would give the district some stability in a state where there now is none."

Graham said there is a short window of time in which the district has this funding option. The amount available could potentially reduce each year because of the property tax limitations imposed by Measures 5 and 50, passed in 1992 and 1997, respectively.

Property taxes for schools are limited to $5 per $1,000 of valuation.

Because of the limitations, even if a local option levy is approved, the district could collect only a portion of that money on specific properties that were at or near the limit.

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