Maries R-1 board anticipates stagnant tax levy, school district has excellent support

By Laura Schiermeier, Staff Writer
Posted 8/10/22

VIENNA — The Maries R-1 School Board wants to leave the district’s tax levy the same as it was last year, citing the school’s patrons good support of the school …

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Maries R-1 board anticipates stagnant tax levy, school district has excellent support

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VIENNA — The Maries R-1 School Board wants to leave the district’s tax levy the same as it was last year, citing the school’s patrons good support of the school district. 

At the July R-1 School Board meeting, Superintendent Teresa Messersmith said she received the district’s assessed valuation and tax levy information from the Maries County Clerk. The school district’s assessed valuation increased by $5 million or eight percent to $67,938,910. New construction added $935,000. It is estimated, if the school district uses last year’s levy of 3.3112 percent as this year’s levy, it will bring in an additional $166,000 in tax revenue during the 2022-2023 school year. The board could choose to set the tax levy at the ceiling of 3.3141. At that rate, the levy would bring in additional tax revenue of $168,000. If they keep the levy at 3.3112, the school can’t change it for next years, but can the following year.

Messersmith asked the board members to think about this as they will need an answer for the tax rate hearing on Aug. 23 at 5:45 p.m., to be held before the regular August meeting. 

Board member Dave Garro said the district’s assessed valuation probably will increase next year, too. Board President Vicki Bade said, “We’ve had tremendous support from the taxpayers. We probably should just leave it.” Board member Mike Kleffner agreed, saying the valuation keeps going up every year. Messersmith said it won’t make a huge revenue difference and she wanted to know the board’s feelings on it. 

In other business at the July R-1 School Board meeting:

—The district’s 2022-2023 professional development plan was approved as was spending one percent on the budget for professional development, which is about $15,000. Bade asked if they will continue to do the early out on Wednesdays for professional development. Messersmith said yes, as it gives teachers time for training and to talk to other teachers about teaching related topics. 

—The board approved the propane bid of $1.62 from Lock’s Mill Propane. The price per gallon includes the yearly inspection fee. Lock’s Mill was the only bidder. Messersmith said the past school year’s propane rate was $1.36 per gallon. The increase will put the district at about $63,000 in propane costs, which is about $5,400 above the average price. 

—The board approved the elementary student handbook. Messersmith said there were not many revisions, as mostly dates and names is all that changed. 

Board member Kacie James had a few suggested changes to the high school handbook, which some Messersmith had already updated such as boy-girl relationships updated to student relationships. 

James asked about the school library and any policies are in place about opposition to books and what procedure the school will follow if this comes up. She thinks a policy is needed to handle it, saying she will fight to keep every book in the library. 

Bade said Messersmith has made some revisions and the others can wait until next year. James said it just needs a few tweaks. Garro said MSBA probably has a book policy they can use and Messersmith agreed. The board approved the high school handbook. 

—The board members discussed the fuel surcharge for contracted bus drivers. The school’s previous policy is paying the surcharge only one way and all of the board members said it needs to be paid for the whole route, not just one way. Kleffner said maybe the one way meant loaded miles. Bade said they all agree to pay for the whole route and the only issue is the surcharge rate. 

Messersmith said Maries R-1 will be getting more transportation money this year, but Garro countered that the legislature can take it away at any time, such as it did before. Bade said she does’t like making changes at the last minute and suggested the surcharge rate be $2.45 per mile. Messersmith said it will cost the school district about $25,000 at $2.45 and $30,000 at $3. 

“We have to pay to get our kids here,” Bade said. 

Garro said they need to start talking about this at the beginning of the year and not wait until right before school starts. 

The board approved the $2.45 surcharge to be paid for the whole route. 

—The board approved the bus sub-contract for one of the contractors. Messersmith said it covers the school district. The district’s attorney wrote the contract. It can be terminated by the school and the contractor is responsible for finding another driver. 

—The board approved buying two new cafeteria stoves through Hubert, a food merchandising company. One is a Vulcan model Endurance restaurant range, natural gas 60” with 10 30,000BTU burners with lift-off burner heads, two standard oven bases, stainless steel front, sides, back riser and high shelf with 6” adjustable legs. It has a one year limited parts and labor warranty. The cost is $7,145.

The second is a Vulcan model Endurance restaurant range the same as the first one only it is 36” with 6 burners. It has a one year limited parts and labor warranty. The cost is $3,875. Also, to be purchased is a lift gate delivery for $99.

Messersmith said it will cost between $500 to $2,500 for delivery and hook up. She said the cafeteria cooks thought the Vulcan stoves were the way to go. It’s the brand of stove currently in the cafeteria. The stoves are about 12 weeks out until they are delivered and put into service. 

—The board members recently had a quick tour of the buildings and they discussed work needing to be done on the older elementary bathrooms. Messersmith said these bathrooms needed to be upgraded as they did with the other elementary bathrooms. Some the toilets are not working. 

Kleffner suggested getting the toilets in working order now and taking on the larger upgrade project next summer when school is out. Messersmith said its a pretty big problem as the toilets are not staying in place on the floor. Kleffner said in the bid proposal, they can ask for a time schedule and do it while the school is closed during Christmas break. Messersmith said the stools need to be fixed now. Bade said they need to “get a plumber in here” soon to make the repairs and they can put the larger project out to bid to start the work when school is out. Kleffner said they may have to tear out walls. 

Bade suggested they start June 1 and ask for the project to be complete by August 1. Board member Matt Novak said once they start tearing it out, “You will find more to do because it’s a plumbing project.” Bade asked Messersmith to email the board members how much it will cost to fix the toilets to get them through the school year. 

—The board opened bids for the surplus ag equipment. Todd Schoene was the high bidder for the welder at $231 and also on the washing machine at $176. Jeff Huffman was the high bidder on the band saw at $227 and also on a welding cart at $86. 

—Following discussion in executive session, the board came back into open session and voted to hire Ralf Trusty as a 4th and 5th grade classroom teacher. Also hired was Anita Martin as a part time Title 1 aide. 

—In the financial report, Messersmith reported Formula/CTR revenue in July at $97,877.77, Prop C revenue of $59,745.20, transportation revenue of $7,823, and food and nutrition revenue of $25,825.64. 

Making revenue comparisons to the previous four years, Formula/CTF is $14,404.40 above the four-year average. Prop C revenue is $25,254.32 above the four-year average. Transportation revenue is $1,371.25 above the four-year average. 

Electricity expenses for July were $6,783.98. Comparing electricity expenses for a four-year period showed this year $1,053.57 below the four-year average.

There were no propane expenses during July, the current propane reading is 31 percent, and the contract for propane is $1.62 per gallon through Lock’s Mill.

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