McDonald schools place levy on ballot
By Mary Smith
The State Finance and Planning Commission has approved placing a 10.75-mill, five-year emergency levy on the May 3 ballot for the McDonald schools to generate $580,000 annually.
Approval of the levy, district Treasurer Brian Stidham said, would allow the district to stay in the black through 2015, based on an assumption of a 15 percent cut in fiscal 2012 of state funding and a flat rate of additional funding from the state after that.
Stidham said the projection is an “educated guess, based on recommendations from the state auditor’s office and general thoughts of others involved in school finance.”
If the levy passes, projections are the district may be able to be removed from state fiscal emergency by 2012-13.
The district still will be paying back the state Solvency Assistance Fund in 2013 and 2014, Stidham said.
McDonald borrowed $2 million through the fund in October 2009 to offset a $2 million deficit.
Because of an unexpected influx of federal-stimulus monies, the district is expected to end fiscal 2011 in the black. The district has saved more than $875,000 from cuts already made.
Stidham said he anticipates the district will still have to borrow a projected $211,000 in fiscal year 2012 to break even with passage of the levy factored in.
“We hope that will be the last year we have to go back” to the solvency fund, he said.
Should the levy fail in May, the commission is recommending that the district go back to voters in November.
If the issue fails in May, the district will have to develop a plan for more cuts, which probably will put the district close to state minimum, the treasurer said, and cause athletic programs and “a lot of other things we don’t want to see go” to be cut, he added. If the issue fails in November, the cuts will have to be implemented immediately.