The Exeter-Milligan school district is once again looking at a levy override on the November ballot.
The last levy override was on the February 2005 ballot and covered the years through 2011-12. The new ballot issue will start the same .30 per $100 override in the fiscal 2012-2013 year and will be for five years, in effect through the 2016-2017 school year.
Exeter-Milligan Superintendent Paul Sheffield states, “Our goal in renewing it (the levy override) is to maintain the quality of education and opportunities for our students.”
Although the district has the ability to go up to $1.35 currently they are using a levy of $1.22. Sheffield expects that number to go down next year as it has every year.
The district heavily depends on the override passing because they get very little in state aid. According to Sheffield, “State aid for the 2010-2011 school year is $32,948.34 and that will go down next year because of the state budget crunch. Last year it was 47,000.00 so it dropped 15,000 this year.”
In looking at the dependence on the levy override, Sheffield noted that they would have to “cut $400,000 - $500,000 from our budget and the only way you can do that is people. Roughly we would have to cut a minimum of seven to eight teachers.”
For a small district like Exeter-Milligan that is a large percentage of their total budget of $4.3 million.
The last time the override measure was on the ballot it passed by a vote of 288 for and 129 against. In 2002, the vote was 357 for and 140 against. To Sheffield and the Board of Education the override is essential, “We are trying to control costs, but with anything the costs of providing a service goes up,” he stated.
As for the future of the district he hopes “to look at it as an investment in the future. We are investing money in our students for the future. As our mission statement iterates, in partnership with parents and the community, our mission is to provide excellent educational programs, which empower our students to be knowledgeable, responsible, patriotic citizens. Ultimately we would like them return to the Exeter-Milligan area to work and raise a family.”
Recently, the district had a facilities study done to access where they are as far as codes and efficiency. With the results of the study in hand the maintenance staff spent a great deal of time painting inside the facility this summer and also all of the lights in the Exeter gymnasium were replaced with more efficient fluorescent lighting.
For Sheffield, “Our first priority is the levy override, make sure that passes. Next step is a facility study which is done, and then we will have some community-wide discussions with the results of the facility study."
Voters in the Fillmore Central district will have the opportunity to vote on this levy override at the polls in November.