Dayton School board discusses levy
November 16, 2023
DAYTON-The School Board held a special meeting on November 7 to discuss an EP&O (Education, Programs and Operations) Replacement Capital Levy to go on the ballot in 2024, as well as priorities for facility projects. Interim Superintendent Rich Stewart facilitated the discussion. Other staff and community members were present and contributed.
Stewart focused on garnering public support for a levy through gaining and maintaining trust. This can be done through communication about projects and completing them on time while working within the budget. Comments were made that with unexpected needs and fluctuating costs of supplies, it can be challenging to stay within budget.
With funding, the priorities for facilities improvements are safety and security, maintenance, academics, technology, infrastructure, athletic facilities, and improvements particularly in the high school auditorium and for the gymnasium floors and roof.
The Board and staff discussed three levy amounts of $0.50, $1.00, and $1.50 per 1000 assessed property value based on a 2% AV (assessed value) growth for four years. The Dayton School District has remained low compared to other districts in the amount of levy funding over the years according to information provided from Stewart. The last several years have been the lowest since 2010 at or just below $1.60. An increase of $1.00 would bring it up close to better funded years. (see graph) Still it would not provide all the needed funding for facilities maintenance, nor address all the safety and security concerns even when subsidized with other grant funding.
According to Board Chair Jeff McCowen not much has been done on campus since his years attending Dayton schools as a kid. He said that even asking the highest amount will not accomplish everything on the list. He suspects with the increase they would still in be in the bottom third for levy funding for school districts in the State. He reminded the attendees that the district has the oldest functioning high school in the State with some remodeling done in the 90s.
The consensus of the Board and other attendees was that the levy is an investment in the kids and the future of the community. The school as an asset to the community that needs to be maintained. Some of the school infrastructure is so antiquated that it needs to be replaced rather than maintained. The district was given a $5 million grant they used for the AC upgrade but found later to use the AC system they needed to replace components of the electric system at a cost of $400k that the grant would not cover. In addition, safety and security need to be improved for students and staff. Those issues include safely removing asbestos, securing some of the entrances and adding a safety vestibule to the secondary building.
The estimated cost for the top priorities is $4.825 million. The $1.50 capital levy rate would provide $5.123 million over four years which would cover those priorities and give some room for other unexpected expenses.