Glenwood School District to decide on ISL

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Instructional Support Levy vote set for Feb. 3

By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

The Glenwood Community School District will hold a special election on Feb. 3 to determine if the district will be allowed to pursue a 10-year Instructional Support Levy (ISL), effective July 1, 2009.

The district has been holding public meetings since September to discuss the ISL. If passed, the ISL would allow the district to pursue general fund revenue for curriculum improvements, new teachers and technology purchases.

Glenwood is just one of two school districts in the Hawkeye 10 Conference and 23 statewide that does not currently have an ISL in place.

The ISL would supplement the district’s $11 million general fund, or regular program costs, as part of its overall $21 million budget. Roughly 80 percent of that general fund money goes toward district employee salaries and benefits, while the remaining is earmarked for curriculum, textbooks, transportation, utilities, maintenance and other expenses.

Glenwood’s ISL proposal could not exceed 10 percent of the total regular program district costs for the budget year. The maximum amount the Glenwood School District could raise according to this formula and the 2007-2008 budget is a little over $700,000, which is regulated by state law, according to Glenwood Superintendent Dr. Stan Sibley. Part of the money would come from a fixed state appropriation, but the majority will come from a ratio of property taxes and income surtaxes.

While that ratio has yet to be determined by the board and will not be voted on by the public, Sibley said the district will continue to hold public forums to determine which scenario works best.

Sibley said the district will have until the March budget deadline to determine the final tax ratio for the ISL.

According to the Iowa Association of School Boards, if Glenwood were to seek the maximum 10 percent of their total regular costs in the 2007-2008 budget in a ratio of 10 percent property taxes and 90 percent income taxes, the annual property tax costs for a $75,000 home would go up roughly $8.22 and the annual surtax per tax return would go up $64.62.

A 50-percent property tax, 50-percent income tax ratio would increase property taxes annually on a $75,000 home by $36.71 and the annual surtax per tax return would increase by $35.90.

School districts as close as Council Bluffs Lewis Central ($7,736 per student) and Shenandoah ($8,013 per student) are out spending Glenwood ($6,740 per student) by more than a $1,000 per student, creating an uneven playing field, said Sibley.