Third Time Is The Charm

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School District ISL Passes By 51-49 Percent Margin

By Joe Foreman, Editor

The third time did indeed turn out to be the charm for the Glenwood Community School District Instructional Support Levy (ISL).

The special levy, which will help fund the district’s curriculum needs, passed by a narrow 51-49 percent margin last Tuesday. The levy received 868 “Yes” votes and 839 “No” votes.

A winter snowstorm created treacherous travel conditions across southwest Iowa on Election Day, but appeared to have little impact on voter turnout. A total of 1,707 ballots (24 percent of 7,208 registered voters) were cast, more than double the number from 2009 when the vote ended in a 434-434 tie and nearly identical to 2010 when the ISL was defeated by a sound margin of 994-717.

Glenwood Community Schools Superintendent Devin Embray said he was “pleased and excited” about passage of the ISL, but admitted he was uncertain how the vote would go.

“To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect,” Embray said. “I had people saying they thought it would pass this time and others saying it didn’t have a chance of passing. I just dedicated my efforts to getting the information out.

“I kind of look at it as a big victory because we had to overcome more than a 200-vote deficit from the last vote.”

Embray credited passage of the measure to the willingness of the board of education to shift the brunt of the ISL tax burden from property taxes to an income surtax and the pre-election efforts of a citizens and parents committee that worked for its passage.

Theresa Romens, president of the Glenwood Board of Education, said there was a different feel to the ISL vote this year.

“There was a new energy this time. It was nice to see a group of young people take a hold of this. They were out making calls. They had the vision of what this would do for the school district,” Romens said. “For people to go out in the snowstorm, it was neat to see that people felt so strongly about the issue.”

The 10-year ISL is expected to generate slightly more than $750,000 annually, starting with the 2013 fiscal year that begins July 1, 2012. Embray said the district expects to receive approximately $84,000 from the levy during the 2012 fiscal year.

In the coming weeks, Embray said, the board of education will work on developing a new district policy for curriculum. Once the new policy is in place, a curriculum coordinating council, comprised of school district staff, parents, students, school board members and representatives of the Loess Hills Area Education Agency 13, will start working on a Comprehensive Curriculum Plan that will determine how ISL monies are utilized.

“I want people in the school district to be comfortable knowing that there is going to be a committee watching how those funds are being spent,” Romens said.