|10/31/2018 2:03:00 PM|
Triton streams levy info session live on Facebook
By Karen M. Jorgensen
Triton school officials held the second of three levy information sessions last week, this one in Dodge Center and also streamed it live on Facebook. The third session was scheduled for Monday night in West Concord.
As he did at a previous Claremont session, Supt. Brett Joyce explained the district's financial situation, what the board has already done to cut expenses and why the levy is needed to prevent further cuts.
In the last two years, Joyce said, the board has cut about $500,000 from the budget.
In the last budget cycle, the largest single cut was replacing the business manager position with an outside vendor. In each of the last two budget cycles, there have been a number of longtime teachers who have retired which has saved monies as new teachers were hired at lesser salaries.
Still, he said, the district "can't cut its way" out of the financial difficulties. Almost 80 percent of the budget goes to student learning, including staff, he said. Any future cuts, he said, will involve areas that will directly impact students.
The district is presenting voters with a three-part operating levy referendum at next Tuesday's election.
Voters will be asked to vote on three separate questions. The first is for $500 per student to raise revenue to help with increasing costs of operating the schools, transportation, busing and maintaining class sizes.
The second question is for $150 a student to generate revenue for curriculum instruction and new technology for students. The third question asks for $100 per student for fine arts including vocal and instrumental music.
If all three questions are approved the levy would raise $750 per student. For a homeowner with a $200,000 home, that would be $217 additional dollars in taxes.
The first question must be approved if either two or three are to pass. If one and two both pass, then question three can pass.
Joyce explained that the first question will help fund replacing buses, utilities and salaries and benefits as well as improving safety and security. Keeping up with technology and curriculum is expensive, Joyce said, using a reading series for elementary students as an example. The series, he said, costs in the area of $100,000.
As far as fine arts, the band is still using instruments that are decades old, he said.
If the levy fails, Joyce said, the district will have to look at all programs. Future cuts, he said, will involve programs and staff.
Responding to questions from the audience and on Facebook, Joyce said if approved the levy would be on the books for 10 years. That does not mean, Joyce said, that the district would have to levy that amount every year. The total of $750, he explained, is the ceiling for this levy. While it is impossible to predict what will be needed 10 years down the road, the board is confident the $750 will be sufficient for at least five years, he said.
The question was also asked if it is necessary to have three principals since the schools are all located in one building.
Board member Melissa Scanlan said that until she was elected a board member she was in favor of having only two principals, one for elementary and one for the middle school and high school.
The most important role in a school is the teacher, Joyce said, and the next leadership. The leadership role is filled by the principal.
There are other area schools, he said, that have one principal for grades seven through 12 but those districts also have deans of students.
Regarding transfers out of the district, Joyce said that every year the district loses some students to other districts and gains students who transfer in. That number, he said, has been consistent for the past three years.
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