Howland seeks new levy

HOWLAND – Citing a large reduction in funding, the Howland Board of Education will ask voters for a 3.9-mill additional tax levy in November.

The levy would generate more than $2 million a year for 10 years and cost owners of a home valued at $100,000 a total $136 a year.

“Howland School District property owners have the third-lowest school tax rate in the county. A low tax rate limits school funding, which limits the quality of education delivered by the schools,” Superintendent John Sheets said.

Sheets said the district has faced a more than $2 million drop in funding since 2011.

In its annual report for the 2011-12 school year, the most recent full fiscal year completed, the school district listed general fund revenues of $27.72 million against expenditures of $27.78 million. Revenues included $10.4 million in state funding, and $15.71 from local taxes, according to the district report.

The district spent about $10,154 per pupil, compared to about $10,157 per pupil for similar districts and a state average of $10,697 per pupil. Enrollment was 2,885 students last school year, according to the report.

The district cut staff over the past four years, including eliminating 15 teaching positions, one athletic administrator and one special education supervisor position. There also have been 20 support staff cut.

“District voters have approved one additional tax levy in 20 years and that was 10 years ago. Everything costs more to operate a school system than 10 years ago,” Sheets said.

Sheets said the levy would strengthen education and learning in Howland Schools by providing updated technology and textbooks, security and safety items as well as the possibility of an all-day, every day kindergarten.