School board approves maximum excess tax levy
WORTHINGTON — The District 518 Board of Education, by a vote of 4-3, approved the maximum levy amount of $4,630,657 during its Tuesday night Truth in Taxation meeting in the Worthington High School media center.
With the district already having $10 million in reserves — about $5 million over the recommended amount by auditors — some members felt as though it was unnecessary to ask for the full amount.
“In my opinion we have too much in reserve right now,” board member Mark Shepherd said. “I think we should show some faith in the taxpayers, as we have in the past, and not levy the full amount.”
Others felt that although there is a surplus in the reserves, that money would disappear quickly in the event of a levy failing to pass next year and cuts therefore becoming necessary.
“I’m not comfortable taking the chance and start making cuts in the reductions not knowing whether or not the revenue is going to be there to replace it,” board member Steve Schnieder said.
District 518 also held its monthly school board meeting Tuesday night at WHS. Prairie Elementary Principal Josh Noble presented updates and significant changes that will be implemented in the school.
A separate first-grade class has been created for students who have difficulty in kindergarten but are passed into the first grade to work on those weaknesses.
“It was decided that we would pass these students on to the first grade instead of holding them back, but this first-grade classroom would be different,” Noble explained.
The class will teach students some kindergarten lessons that need to be strengthened as well as first-grade skills.
“Unless these students make significant changes, then we will have to hold them back from second grade,” Noble said. “We want to make sure that these students have confidence that they can do the work before we move them on to second grade.”
The elementary school is also restructuring its English Learners (EL) department. EL students were previously placed in separate classrooms, but Noble said he wants to try something different.
“When we had them separated this left us with hiring new teachers — teachers who were not EL licensed — we were basically asking them to go to school all over again,” Noble said. “Now we have dispersed all language students in all our 12 classrooms. I think it will help them learn from each other instead of being split up.”
A junior varsity coach for girls’ basketball — a position that was dropped in 2005 due to budget cuts — was approved during the meeting, as well as a full-time English Learners teacher at WHS and the Area Learning Center.