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Rockwood Voters Will See Tax Increase Proposal

Rockwood School District's board members voted to place a proposal to increase the district's operating fund levy on the November 2011 ballot.

Indicating that "the Rockwood advantage" is in jeopardy, Rockwood school board members voted unanimously at Thursday's meeting to place a proposal to raise the operating tax levy on the November 2011 ballot for voters to decide.

The actual dollar amount for the increase will be determined by Aug. 30, 2011.

The district's operating levy has not been raised since 1994, except as authorized by state statute.

Citing that the two major sources of district revenue are state appropriations and a voter-approved property tax levy, Rockwood school board director Stephen Banton moved to take this step for the fall. Vice president Janet Strate seconded the motion. Banton said the situation was a byproduct of drops in state revenue, resulting in the district receiving steadily decreasing state appropriations.

Banton said the state's funding shortfall has cut into all state programs, and is having an adverse affect on education.

"Voters, the Rockwood citizens, have the right to determine what will happen. We [the directors] are not the ones to raise taxes, rather it is our job to provide alternatives when we see the Rockwood advantage is in jeopardy," said Banton.

Rockwood officials indicate they have trimmed $20 million in the past four years without undue impact on what occurs in students' classrooms. But as of Thursday evening, based on a report from the district's chief financial and legislative officer, Shirley Broz, the directors faced the fact that other reductions would be necessary, given the current circumstances.

Rockwood board of education president Steve Smith said it is obvious the district cannot fund what they all want to fund.

Director Matt Doell said it is a matter of deciding between two things no one likes:  a tax levy or accepting budget cuts on overall programs. "Both are distasteful choices," he said.

Editor's Note:  The most current, revised list of proposed Rockwood cost reductions accompanies this article. (Adjustments were made even since the May 5, 2011, list.) Reductions were provided as a one-page summary to Rockwood's board of education directors by the district's chief financial and legislative officer, Shirley Broz, at Thursday's meeting.

Mary May 22, 2011 at 09:51 PM
I know an increase won't be popular, but I believe the cuts to the funding will make it difficult for our kids to continue to get the quality education they deserve. Class sizes are up, administrative costs are down, general overhead has been cut; there is little else. Read up on the research about DARE; people like it because it makes them feel good, but it doesn't work. An alternative is a sound investment. Depending on the amount, I see an increase as an investment- in my property- and our kids.
Lisa May 23, 2011 at 01:43 AM
Mary, there are studies supporting DARE and studies that don't. You can find both on the Internet. However, what we do know is what our children tell us and our own personal experiences. Teaching young children about the dangers of drug, tobacco and alcohol abuse is not a bad thing. Police presence and rapport is not a bad thing. Both of these are being offered to our children at NO cost to the district and yet they still decide to yank it from the curriculum. Start trimming the fat elsewhere- instill a pay to play system in athletics, run smaller buses to the rural areas that have less than 10 kids on the bus, cut/freeze salaries. DARE is not the problem.
Mary May 23, 2011 at 03:24 PM
Agree that the money issue is not DARE. Still am in favor of bringing in something proven to be more effective (most reliable studies are from the Dept. of Education & National Institute of Justice) and I'm still in favor of an increase. You can't cut salaries to make up the difference in what is coming in/going out. You get what you pay for. Chrysler was a huge hit. I'm sure there will be much more discussion about this in the coming months. I hope everyone is open-minded and well educated. I don't want us to be like some of our surrounding and floundering districts. They have low taxes.
amy locheed May 25, 2011 at 11:48 AM
No new taxes! We are going to be losing even more state and local control over our education in public schools through the National mandates/curriculum. Please do your research! Most people want control over their health care, why not control over education locally!?
Terry Biglin June 24, 2011 at 01:37 PM
Absolutely no new taxes! Especially in light of the Post Dispatch article this past Sunday about hiring a new inexperienced superintendent. He's so inexperienced he hired two of his friends from Minnesota to come here to help him and they're each going to make six-figure salaries. What's wrong with this school board. Guess who's voting against all the board members at their next elections?

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