School board approves special levy order for May 10 primary

by Kate Evans

The Morgan County School Board approved their special levy order at their February 15 meeting to continue the Morgan County Schools special levy for the fiscal years beginning July 1, 2023 through July 1, 2026.  They also approved the date of the special levy election as May 10 so it can be held at the May 10 primary election.

If approved by voters in May, the proposed special levy would bring in $4,494,543 annually over four years at the same tax rates that voters approved in the May, 2014 and May, 2018 special levy elections-a 70% reduced levy rate.  Morgan County Schools has had a special levy since 1958.

Minor changes

The special levy order has just a few minor changes.  Salaries and benefits and critical education programs would receive slightly higher amounts-$67,245 and $105,000 respectively.

Capital improvements is now a separate line item from facilities and maintenance and the combined support for the county libraries was raised from $35,000 to $45,000 at the recommendation of the state. Social and emotional support and health and wellbeing were added to the critical education programs line item.

Same tax rate

The proposed special levy tax rates for the May 10 special levy election are the same as in the 2014 and 2018 special levy elections-16.08 cents per $100 of assessed value for Class 1 properties, 32.16 cents per $100 of assessed value for Class 2 properties, and 64.32 cents per $100 of assessed value for Class 3 and Class 4 properties. The levy rates would apply for the fiscal years beginning July 1, 2023 through July 1, 2026.

What the levy will fund

If approved by voters, the proposed special levy will provide an estimated $1,972,105 for employee salaries and benefits; $1,252,438  for critical education programs support; $400,000 for facilities maintenance, security and operations; $300,000 for  capital improvements/repairs or purchase of property; $125,000 for  technology hardware, software, infrastructure, repair and training; $400,000 for instructional materials, textbooks, programs and equipment; and $45,000 for the combined support of the Morgan County Public Library ($27,000) and the  Paw Paw Public Library. ($18,000)

Salaries and benefits

The $1.972 million special levy monies for employee salaries and benefits will raise professional and service staff pay above the state minimum to attract and retain highly qualified personnel.

The special levy pays the full salaries and benefits for any teachers or school staff employed above the state minimum.  It also provides coaches’ pay and staff supplemental salaries for extracurricular academic duties.

Critical educational programs

The $1.252 million for critical educational program support will provide funding for alternative education and prevention resources, academic enrichment and remediation, social and emotional support, health and wellbeing, extracurricular activities, science, technology, engineering and math (S.T.E.M.) programs and vocational programming.

It also includes monies for remedial specialists and interventionists, social work and counseling positions and Advanced Placement (AP) programming.