The Budget Cuts are the Product of Multiple Failed Tax Levies
Published: March 30, 2021
Although the present financial situation of the district appears grim, those who observe the district’s budget have seen the writing on the wall for a long time. Ever since the failure of multiple tax levies, the district’s finances have been on the brink of requiring drastic measures, such as teacher cuts.
“A tax levy is a major funding mechanism used in the state of Missouri to fund political subdivisions of the state, like school districts,” Kevin Supple, Chief Operating Officer of FHSD for the last 16 years, said. “Taxes are levied on all real and personal property in the district. The funds are collected by the county and distributed to the local districts based on their individual tax rates.”
In other words, a tax levy is an increase on property taxes that goes to fund the school district. Property tax accounts for the single largest source of income for the district, making roughly 55 percent of the FHSD budget. The school board and the district administration must work together in order to propose a tax levy, which is then voted on by the county’s constituents.
“The school board directs the superintendent and the executive board to look at the finances of the district,” board member and former educator Patrick Lane said. “Then they ask them to propose a tax levy that would be a certain amount to generate funds for the school.”
Even after not passing a levy, the district was able to keep most of its faculty intact, only making soft cuts on vacant positions not filled up until now. However, the COVID-19 pandemic put a massive strain on the district’s finances, pushing it over the brink.
“Hindsight is always great,” board member and former nurse for the district Janet Stiglich said. “I do agree that [a tax levy] would be helping us now, but who would’ve thought back in 2018 we would have COVID here and how much that would’ve taken a hit on our budget. As much as I’d like to say yes, I do agree definitely we would be in a better position, but I still do believe we would be making some cuts.”
Despite the setbacks caused by COVID-19 and the volatile state of the district’s budget, there is still hope to recover and move forward. A tax levy can serve as a lifeline to the district, providing it with much needed money in order to prevent staff cuts from happening again. Furthermore, a levy can also provide the funding needed to modernize and improve the district and learning experience of students. DesThe success of students remains the utmost priority of the board and district.
“You have to invest in your future,” Lane said. “Our children are our future, and I want the kids in my neighborhood to grow up and be someone. And how can we do that? We have to offer our children one of the best educations that we can around. You cannot do that on a limited dollar.”