The Chillicothe R-II Board of Education is asking voters to approve a levy tax increase at the polls on June 2.

The Chillicothe R-II Board of Education is asking voters to approve a levy tax increase at the polls on June 2.

The passage of the $ 0.68 per $100 valuation would mean an additional $935,000 for the district, a 4.2 percent increase in revenue funds.

Superintendent Dan Wiebers said this tax increase is vital for the district for a variety of factors including the rising costs of goods and services, combined with a reduction of state aid, and the need to attract quality teachers to the District with a competitive salary.

“Our starting pay for teachers is lower than any other schools in the area,” Wiebers noted. “We have and want to continue to retain and attract quality educators and staff, to do that we need to be more competitive with our salary schedule.”

Despite cost-cutting measures, prices continue to rise and collected revenues have fallen.

Like all school districts across the state, Chillicothe R-II has not been receiving all of the state funding they once did, this hampers the transportation aspect of the budget. Wiebers said the district has reduced the number of bus routes and operates with an aging bus fleet in an effort to cut costs.

In addition to increasing salaries and addressing transportation needs, Wiebers said there is an ongoing need for capital improvement funds as well and added that additional requirements being put in place as response and prevention to COVID-19, have put an additional strain on the budget.

In the 2019-2020 budget building supplies were budgeted at 10 percent less, despite an increase of as many as 40 students, Wiebers said. The district has also begun to get - for the first time ever - State Adequacy Target Formula Funds for pre-kindergarten students.

The last time voters approved an operating levy increase was in 1992 for $0.36; in 1998 a $0.79 Proposition C Waiver was passed for a purchase agreement for a new high school. At that point the tax rate was $3.54 per $100 assessed valuation.

A bond issue - for construction only was passed in 2016 for construction of the new elementary school.

On April 2, 2019, more than 20 years since the passage of the last operating levy - Chillicothe voters defeated a levy increase with 1,328 votes being cast to not increase the levy and 751 “yes” votes. It took a simple majority to pass or defeat the measure.

Wiebers said one of the most frequently asked questions is why the district needs the funds - why it needs to close the gap in the budget and quit deficit spending.

“Imagine the school district is your home. Currently, the district is spending money out of its savings account (district reserves) to pay for operational costs. This works until the funds are depleted. Then the only option is to cut expenditures,” Wiebers said. “Which means fewer teachers, larger class sizes and reduction in student achievement.”

Anyone with questions about the proposed levy increase to Wiebers at dwiebers@chillicotheschools.org, or call the district office at 660-646-4566.