Holyoke School District Re-1J voters will see a mill levy override extension question on the Nov. 4 ballot. Wording for the ballot issue was approved by the school board at its Tuesday, Sept. 2, meeting.
Without creating any new tax or increasing any current tax, the ballot question asks for 2.5 mills of the district’s 2010 voter-approved override mill levy to be extended for five additional years.
The 2010-approved mill levy override will expire after collection year 2015. If the proposed ballot issue passes in November, the 2.5-mill override will be extended through collection year 2020.
In 2010, voters in the school district approved 3 mills for five years and another 4.5 mills for 10 years. The ballot question asks for 2.5 mills to be continued for five years, which results in a decrease of half a mill as compared to the current mill levy override.
Superintendent Bret Miles said there was good news from their lawyers about the ballot language. The district is able to put forth a question that asks voters to approve a continuation of the 2010 mill levy override rather than the traditional question which includes language, “shall taxes be increased.”
Miles noted this is the result of a 2006 Supreme Court ruling which gives latitude in the ballot language for a previously approved mill levy.
The ballot question asks for the extension of the mill levy override for five years to continue to provide funds for, among other things:
—renovating and repairing existing facilities to extend their useful life.
—upgrading the technology infrastructure of the district.
—purchasing and installing instructional and informational technology.
—restoring and updating instructional supplies and materials.
—attracting and retaining qualified teachers and providing additional staff for essential education programs.
Bond refinance to reduce bond mill levy by 1.84 mills
A parameters resolution for refinancing the Series 2005 bonds was approved at last week’s board meeting. It will involve a decrease of 1.84 mills in the bond redemption fund. The current year’s bond redemption fund of 4.25 mills will reduce to 2.41 next year.
This was a slight change from what had been discussed at the Aug. 19 board meeting when it looked like a 2-mill reduction would be involved.
In final preparations for the refinance, Miles said the investment bankers hadn’t accounted for the 2014 bond payment, which made for the difference.
Board members looked at options, including one that could still drop the bond redemption fund by 2 mills but potentially extend the final payment of bonds into 2022 instead of being done in 2021.
Board member Dennis Herman said it doesn’t seem right to say they’re cutting the mill levy by a certain amount but then add another year to the debt service.
Herman pointed out that 1.84 mills off the bond redemption is still a good deal. It’s just not quite as good as they thought they would get with 2 mills.
Miles noted that the refinance will still have a savings to the district in terms of overall debt and annual payments.
2014-15 assessment calendar is full
A full calendar showing the 2014-15 standardized tests to be given during the school year and the dates of the assessment windows was reviewed in detail by the school board.
Reasons why each test is in place and approximate time dedicated for each test were part of the report.
Miles also reported on the technology impact the assessments have and how they will restrict the availability of computers in the district.
In other business at the Sept. 2 meeting, the school board:
—hired Victoria Timm as a temporary assistant to Sandra Rahe, who is not only handling her athletic director role but is also teaching math full time until the district’s math teacher Cristine Mallari arrives.
—approved Vanessa Tharp as assistant HS girls’ volleyball coach and Justin Peters as HS football volunteer coach.
—acknowledged a gift of 18 laptops to the sixth-grade classrooms from Cabela’s corporate office. Also, from PC Telcom/RadioShack, the district received four two-way radios and two docking stations for the JR/SR high.
Holyoke Enterprise September 11, 2014