Poland BOE postpones levy action

By Ashley Luthern



The Poland Board of Education postponed action on a resolution of necessity to place a new five-year emergency operating levy on the November ballot at its Monday meeting.

The board does plan to vote on the resolution at a 1 p.m. June 10 special meeting at the Poland Seminary High School library. In the resolution, the board must specify the annual dollar amount generated by the emergency operating levy, and board members felt they did not have sufficient information to decide on an amount Monday.

The board, however, did hear from Treasurer Donald Stanovcak, who presented an updated five-year forecast. Stanovcak reminded the board that the projections in his forecast are created using historical data to predict future trends.

The district’s bottom line is projected to have deficits of $104,501 at the end of fiscal year 2013, $2.3 million in 2014, $4.8 million in 2015 and $7.5 million in 2016. The district operates on a fiscal, not calendar, year.

Stanovcak also gave the board some estimates of levy amounts, based on the millage of the failed March 6 additional levy. A 3.9-mill levy, for example, would generate close to $1.45 million annually, but that amount would only stall the district from reaching a deficit another year or two, he added.

“People want to know what we need to get that $7.5 million [deficit], and it will take about a 6.9-mill levy to make it go away,” he said, adding that is without considering other options.

Board member Robert Shovlin brought up the financial benefits of open enrollment, which could generate about $1.6 million if 280 children open-enrolled in grades kindergarten through sixth.

“The levies aren’t passing,” he said.

The last new Poland schools levy approved by voters was for 6.9-mills in 2003.

Other board members were quick to point out that community input is needed before any decision on open enrollment and said they still plan to have a public forum on the subject in September.

Superintendent Robert Zorn said that if trends in enrollment and local birth rate remain the same, the district could close an elementary school in five years and absorb the remaining students into other buildings while adhering to state class size guidelines.

“If an elementary school were closed, my best guess is it would probably save about $350,000 ... and most of that savings is in laying off personnel and after the costs of unemployment and assuming enrollment stayed the same,” Zorn said

Board President Dr. Larry Dinopoulos said that savings would still not be enough to keep the district financially solvent in the long-term.

“You’ve heard all of us say this, but I’ll say it again: We can’t cut our way out of this,” he said.

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