The Independence School District was so confident that the 24-cent operational levy increase question on the ballot would pass, it began interviewing teachers for the next school year before election results were in Tuesday night, said Superintendent Dale Herl.
Voters approved the district levy increase question on Tuesday with 4,228 voters, or nearly 65 percent, voting “yes” and 2,292 voters, or 35 percent, saying “no.” This is the first time in nearly 12 years the district operational levy has increased.
“I’d really like to thank the voters for believing in the district,” Herl said. “This is a huge impact for our kids to move forward. We continue to grow at a rapid pace, but we’re excited about it.”
The tax increase is expected to generate $2 million in local revenue for the district, with $1.4 million going toward reducing overcrowded classrooms by hiring more teachers, $500,000 for replacing approximately 3 million square feet of rooftop and HVAC upgrades at various district buildings and $100,000 to train teachers for the upcoming Career Academies at the district’s high schools. Herl estimated the grade levels experiencing the student population spike the most, K-3, will need 25 to 35 additional teachers for the 2015-16 school year alone. The district’s total student population has increased by an average of 250 to 350 students each school year since 2008.
The district levy for taxpayers will be $4.67 per $100 of assessed valuation, or an average of $3.80 a month, beginning November 2016.
Independence School District will still be “tightening its belts and make do without” despite the voter-approved increase in local revenue, Herl added. The $2 million that will be generated by the levy increase covers less than half of the $4.5 million the district loses in local revenue annually.