Union School District - Option levy mulled

By Dick Mason, The Observer October 15, 2012 01:49 pm

Tax money raised could be used to hire more teachers

The financially strapped Union School District may ask voters in 2013 to approve a local option levy to help cope with funding issues. 

Union School District Superintendent Jon St. Germaine told the Union School Board Wednesday that he is continuing to explore the possibility of having the district seek a local option levy tax. St. Germaine said he hoped that such a tax could generate enough money to hire more teachers.

Additional staff in the school district would give the district a vital boost in the wake of budget cuts made in June. Approximately $250,000 was cut from the district’s budget due to a financial shortfall caused by declining enrollment and reduced state funding. A total of two faculty positions were cut in the process of making the budget reduction.

“If we could get enough to hire one extra teacher, that would make big difference,” St. Germaine said.

About $80,000 a year from a local option tax would be needed to pay for the salary and benefits of an additional teacher. 

St. Germaine told his school board he will be contacting school districts of similar size that have passed local option levies. St. Germaine wants to learn how the districts were able to pass option levies and how they helped them.

The school districts of Helix, Colton and Crow-Applegate-Lorane, each of similar size to the Union district, are among those that have passed local option levy taxes in the past decade. The Helix School District is in Umatilla County, and the others are in Western Oregon.

Should the Union School Board determine that it will seek a local option levy, a proposal may be put before voters in 2013, St. Germaine said.