By Samantha Pidde
Herald Staff Writer
The Camanche Board of Education is considering different ways to pay for more programs for at-risk students.
Small increases in taxes or cuts in other budgeted items were just a few of the possibilities discussed by the board during it annual goal-setting session on Wednesday night. However, Superintendent Tom Parker recommended that the district keep the current tax rate of approximately 15.73 for fiscal year 2013. Parker summarized the district’s financial status for the board. Parker described the current tax rate as middle of the road compared to other districts. He pointed out that the levy rate has seen a slight increase over the years, but is holding its own. He also explained that the district’s property taxes seem higher because its income surtax is zero.
He felt that with local businesses and industries in Camanche, using property taxes is better than the surtax.
Parker felt that since Camanche is only taxing at approximately half of what it could, raising the taxes would be one way to help fund drop-out prevention and at-risk student programs. The at-risk program has an allowable growth of approximately 161,000. However, with the district’s information due to the state in December, he felt they should wait until the next fiscal year to make any increases.
Board member Dan Srp and others were hesitant to wait that long for additional funding that could help the at-risk programs.
Parker cautioned the board about raising the tax rates at this time. The state has not set the allowable growth yet.
Board member Brad Weber said they could raise it by five or 10 percent. While Srp was interested in raising the rate, he wanted to know what programs it could be used for. He felt the community is supportive of programs to help at-risk students if they know what they are. Board member Albert McManus did not want to ask for the money without knowing how it would be used.
Brad Weber asked his fellow board members if there was a better way to spend the $161,000. McManus pointed out that even though it seems like a lot of money, that amount can go fast. He wondered if they could take money from the general fund. Parker said it was an option, but then they would have to figure what to cut in the general fund.