On Election Day April 3, the Van-Far R-I School District is asking residents to approve an operating levy increase less than a year from voters voting down the ballot issue known as Proposition A.
The district is officially asking voters to cast their vote for the increase of an operating tax levy ceiling to $3.9701 per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation for the purpose of providing additional funds to better maintain the district’s programming, facilities, retain qualified staff, and meet other operating needs. The move would push the levy up by .58 cents, from $3.3901 to $3.9701.
By a 4-2 vote, the Van-Far R-I School Board approved a measure during the January monthly board meeting.
Board members Larry Wheeler, Dana Keller, Pete Nasir, and Justin Hopke voted “Yes” while board President Kevin Motley and Jim Hopke voted “No.” Dr. Greg Frost was not present for the meeting.
Last August, Van-Far R-I School District voters officially voted down a possible tax levy increase by about 50 votes.
It is believed a passed increase will generate around $250,000 for the district. With enrollment in decline, the district is not receiving as much revenue as it had in the past due to a lower number of students. State revenues heading to Van-Far have decreased approximately $450,000 since the 2011-2012 school year.
Meanwhile, health insurance costs have doubled in eight of the last 10 years.
There is also a potential loss of approximately $270,000 in AmerenUE dollars in 2020 looming.
Currently, the average Missouri public school spends $800 more per child than at Van-Far.
This results in the lowest operating revenue per student in the area at $2,569. Nine other districts come in with a higher figure including Community R-VI at $4,187. Louisiana is just above Van-Far at $2,613.
Van-Far has also reduced its total staffing by 7.5 positions in the past five years.
A passed increase will effect residents depending on the value of their home, car, commercial property, or agricultural property.
An example of an $80,000 home would result in the resident having an expense around just $7.35 per month.
“Education is a cornerstone of the Van-Far community’s future and success,” says the district on a frequently asked questions handout as an answer to those living in the district without enrolled students. “Students of today are going to be our leaders of tomorrow. They are going to be our homeowners, business owners, and neighbors.”
The last operating levy increase was approved by voters in 1988. In 2006, an increase of .40 was approved to establish the debt service levy.