Glenwood ISL Vote Set For Feb. 2

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School Board Makes Push For Instructional Support Levy

By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

A day short of one year after voters said no to the Glenwood School’s request for an Instructional Support Levy, the district is planning to try again.

The Glenwood School Board voted 3-1 at a public hearing Monday night in the Glenwood Community High School Media Center to pursue an Instructional Support Levy (ISL), an alternative funding stream to address curriculum and technology needs in the cash strapped district, in a Feb. 2 special election.

The district had sought an ISL last Feb. 3 but that measure failed after a district-wide vote ended in a 434-434 tie, just one vote short of the simple majority needed to pass. Glenwood is just one of two districts in the Hawkeye 10 Conference and 20 statewide among 361 school districts that does not have an ISL.

About 20 Glenwood residents showed up for the hearing to ask questions and listen to the district’s proposal.

A passing vote this time would allow the district to generate up to a maximum of 10 percent of the regular program costs, or a little more than $800,000 for the 2010-2011 school year, from a ratio of property taxes and income surtax. The board could also choose to pursue less than 10 percent of its program costs if it so chooses. The revenue generated by the ISL could not be used for capital improvements.

Glenwood Superintendent Dr. Stan Sibley said in a presentation at Monday’s hearing the funds would be used, in the short term, to lower class sizes at the district’s two elementary schools, implement state-mandated 21st century skills programs, improve on-line learning and technology district-wide and upgrade textbooks and learning materials.

In the long term, Sibley said, the ISL would be used to shore up the district’s budget. Since 2002 Glenwood’s enrollment has increased by 56 students, yet over the same period the district has eliminated 13 teaching positions, two administrative positions and a custodial supervisor to deal with budget cuts. In the 2010-2011 budget round, the district is facing a 10-percent slash in state education funding across the board and a freeze in allowable budget growth.

If the ISL is not passed, the district will have to reduce next year’s budget by nearly $1 million, said Sibley. If passed, he added, the budget is still facing $500,000 to $700,000 in cuts.

The district is planning to host some “town hall meetings” in the weeks leading up to the Feb. 2 vote.