Along with a challenging 2010-2011 district budget, the Pella School Board also addressed another item related to school finances at this past week’s meeting. The board is recommending a 1.5 percent increase in the district’s instructional support levy. Pella Schools Superintendent Mark Wittmer says the levy largely comes from income surtax and supports programs related to reading and staff development.
“We use it for an awful lot of things that we think are essential: additional reading teachers, library dollars, staff development, and in some cases some technology funds,” says Wittmer. “[It's] a variety of things that really help our program be a little more robust than maybe it could be otherwise.”
The board has recommended an increase from 6.5 percent to eight percent, which Wittmer adds would cost someone with $70,000 of taxable income around $6 per month. He adds that while the decision was certainly to increase the levy was certainly not taken lightly, the board felt it was vital to the future of students in the district.
“We think it’s important for us to be able to maintain the kind of program and quality that we’re delivering, as far as the educational system here in Pella is concerned,” says Wittmer. “We [the school board] certainly tried to be as efficient as we can, but at some point in time, we still need resources to deliver the quality that I think people expect.”
Roughly 90 percent of schools in the state utilize the instructional support levy, and Wittmer says the recommended increase to eight percent compares with a statewide average of nine percent. A public hearing on the instructional support levy will be held at the Pella School Board’s May 24th meeting.