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Friday, Mar. 27, 2015

Tax burden shifting in R-1

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Patrons of the Monett R-1 School District will pay more in taxes this year because of a reduction in industrial assessments. Members of the Monett R-1 Board of Education voted to keep income steady despite the shift in the source of payments.

"We hope, and the assessor hopes, this is a one-year sever drop," said Superintendent Brad Hanson.

A change in state law five years ago directed businesses to depreciate equipment down from 30 percent of its value to 10 percent. Barry County opted to defer the drop until the last year.

Assessed valuation dropped $6 million in Barry County, where almost all of Monett's industry is located. Gains in new construction and real estate valuations in Lawrence County cut the reduction to $4.5 million.

The R-1 District has a voter-approved operating levy of $3.31 per $100 of assessed property. Last year patrons paid $3.09. To keep income to schools at the same level, board members voted to raise the levy to $3.1862 for the coming tax cycle.

"The debt service levy stayed at 56 cents," Hanson said. "Technically, with the assessed valuation drop, we could have raised the debt service as high as 73 cents. But the board assured voters on the last bond issue that they would not raise taxes. The only increases were made so we could keep funding level."

Facility improvements

Hanson updated the board on the summer facilities projects. Only a little dirtwork remained after erecting the new lights at Burl Fowler Stadium. Hanson was working with a local contractor to have a concrete pad poured on the north end of the field where the sidewalks converge to approach the concession stand, a chronically muddy spot.

Carpet has been installed in the Monett Athletics Center (The Mac). Hanson said the 8,000-square-foot all-weather carpeting will require the purchase of an industrial vacuum cleaner.

The Monett Elementary School kitchen staff have additional space now that the freezer has been moved to an outside storeroom. A new ceiling and lighting also improved their work conditions.

Installation of the new lights and acoustic panels in the gym at Monett High School has been completed. Principal David Steward indicated the facility already sounded better.

Technicians working on the ground source heating and cooling system at the high school completed their initial work without finding additional damage. No significant deterioration of the trunk lines was found. In the coming weeks, they planned to test flow rates and monitor the acidity levels to put them back in balance.

An engineering report is still forthcoming on the steps necessary over the next few years to maintain the system. The trunk lines that lead to the underground units have not yet been assessed.

School opening report

Hanson reported on the positive numbers with the opening of school on Aug. 15. When the board met a week later, total documented student attendance and enrollment was up 55 students to 2,396.

The September count filed with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) last year tallied 2,350 students. This year's count is already significantly higher prior to Labor Day.

Steward updated the board on the advanced placement tests taken at the end of the last school year. Scores dropped slightly, from 2.06 to 1.96, not a statistically significant change.

The total number of AP tests taken fell more significantly, from 214 to 163. Steward said the total is still the third highest in 10 years.

"We offer more dual credit classes than ever," Steward told The Times. "We require the AP tests for classes we teach. Students can also take classes that earn them college credit on-line. They take a different test at the end required by the college that we don't monitor. Some of the drop-in tests given may be due to that."

Administrative action

The board set out-of-district tuition for the year at $7,595, an increase of $80 over the previous year. Hanson said the amount was based on the actual costs per student.

Bids were taken on surplus property. The poles from the old lights at Burl Fowler Stadium were sold to the Pierce City R-6 School District. The sale of old sewing machines and furniture, remaining after the remodeling at Monett Elementary, was approved to individual buyers.

RE/MAX Properties was approved to provide realtor services for the construction technology class at Scott Tech. Hanson expected the house will be finished in September.

Board members approved an agreement with the City of Monett for use of city facilities by school athletes. No agreement in writing previously existed. Hanson said the commitment of funds to help with the dugouts and the high school ball field at North Park prompted the move. The agreement also allows the district's liability insurance to cover students practicing and competing on city facilities.

The annual Secretary of the Board report for DESE was approved, providing a fiscal snapshot of district activities over the past year. Two unrestricted bank accounts increased to 29.7 percent of the annual budget, reflecting a slight increase over the previous year.

Board members scheduled their annual retreat for long-range planning on Wednesday, Sept. 12, at an undetermined location.

Board meetings for the fall were rescheduled to avoid conflicts and holidays. The board plans to meet on Oct. 25 and Nov. 19.



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