Green Mountain School District would typically run a maintenance and operations levy in February when most other school districts tend to, but this year they pushed back the vote until August.
That’s because the district went out to voters in November, who approved a capital levy that will pay the district $1.25 million spread out evenly to $250,000 a year for five years.
“August is an unusual time for districts to go to the voters with a levy, but with our population up here, we thought we’d have a great shot to pass it,” Superintendent Tyson Vogeler said.
It also gives the district a backup plan if voters come out against the measure. School districts can only run a levy vote twice in a calendar year. If the vote on Aug. 6 fails, the district can run it again in November.
Vogeler is, of course, hoping it doesn’t come to that. This levy is a replacement three-year levy for educational programs and operations. The district estimates the tax rate for the levy will be $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value for all three years, bringing Green Mountain’s collection to an estimated $321,129 in 2020, $353,241 in 2021 and $388,566 in 2022.
Green Mountain relies heavily on the levy, which makes up a little less than 20 percent of operating funds for the single-school K-8 district. The enrollment when school let out was a little more than 160 students, Vogeler said.
Whereas larger districts use levy money more for programs, Green Mountain uses some of it to hire people.
“The state does not fund a full teacher per grade level, especially for grades four and up, for us,” Vogeler said. “Similarly, what the state appropriated to us for classified staff, we can’t operate the district on.”
Funding one teacher per grade level is something district officials have talked about in recent years, and Vogeler said they felt comfortable funding for the upcoming school year. In the past, the district used split classes, where teachers would have a classroom of students from two different grades.
The levy proceeds would also be used for other expenses, including supplies, technology and professional development opportunities.
Capital levy update
Vogeler said the district is currently working with architects to come up with a plan to prioritize the capital levy money. The priorities, he said, will be to remodel the cottage on district property, build a covered play area and make some safety improvements.
“Those projects will move forward to next summer,” he said. “Permitting and planning should go through the year, and construction could be pretty busy here next summer.”