WHO: Independence Board of Education

WHEN: Tuesday, July 8

MEETING HIGHLIGHT: Jackson County’s assessed valuation of the Independence School District has dropped by $17 million for the new fiscal year.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: According to Superintendent Dale Herl, the reduced valuation means $750,000 less in district revenue for the upcoming 2014-15 school year. With approximately 900 more students anticipated to attend the district next school year, Independence schools will have to handle this enrollment increase “with a lot less (financial resources).” However, Herl said that operating levies will not be raised. Board of Education Director Denise Fears told the board the district will have a 7 percent increase in student population while dealing with a 13 percent decrease in funding. Herl said to put things in perspective, the district was valued “just under a billion dollars” when he joined the district during the 2008-09 school year. The district is currently valued at $909 million, nearly a $110 million loss in valuation. He attributed the county’s valuation drop to how it changed assessing a vehicle for personal property tax. He said the Jackson County assessor goes by the NADA pricing guide for vehicle valuation, and normally an automobile can either fall under the guide’s two metrics: Clean or trade-in. Now most cars that are two years and older classify as a trade-in, resulting in a lower valuation. Herl noted that another district in the county dropped $40 million in valuation due to this metric. He also said that if the Missouri K-12 Foundation Formula was fully funded, it would yield millions of dollars in more revenue for the district. “Despite being cautious with budgeting...” Herl told the board, “we (the district) have a loss of $750,000.”

OTHER TOPICS OF NOTE: The school board approved increasing fees for the Kids’ Safari after-school program by $3, and by $10 during a snow day in which a student can attend the program. Also, the board approved scheduling the 2014-15 school district tax rate levy hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 12, at 5:45 p.m. The open meeting will be held at the district’s board room.

--Brandon Dumsky