Unit 40 Board Passes Tax Levy, Hears About Family Reading Camp


Published on November 13 2017 8:40 pm
Last Updated on November 14 2017 7:52 am
Written by Greg Sapp

The Effingham Unit 40 Board of Education Monday adopted the tax levy for the new fiscal year.

The total levy is 6.25% above what was actually extended for taxes last year. Assistant Superintendent Jason Fox said at last month's meeting that a levy 3.2588% above would likely generate the maximum amount that could be earned, but wanted to set it higher to make sure the district gets all of the property tax dollars possible. The levy is based on an equalized assessed value of property in Unit 40 of close to $417 million.

Unit 40 Superintendent Mark Doan said the district's tax rate projected at 3.5730 will still be one of the lowest in the area, with the EAV a factor in keeping the rate low.

Fox reported that the all-funds balance of the district is up more than 11% over this month a year ago, and the operating funds balance is almost 15% ahead of a year ago. Doan said the State helped that difference by paying categorical dollars that were due last year, and said the district received its second distribution of county property tax dollars.

Board members heard a presentation from ELC teachers Kami Hefner and Jarielle Cameron on a Family Reading Camp held recently. The event was designed to get parents into the building and to teach them tools and strategies they can use to help their children learn. The tips dealt with how to work on letters and sounds at home. The teachers kept it fun by having a campout, cakewalk, fishing for words game, photo booth and book fair. ELC Principal Jennifer Fox said the idea for the event came out of the Teacher Leadership Program employed around the district a teachers brainstorm and share ideas to meet goals.

The Board heard that the District is competing well with State averages on the School Report Card. This is a report card not received by a student, but a grade card from the State based on test results. Curriculum Director Michelle Beck said 45% of District students qualify for low-income status, compared to 51% statewide, 1.5% qualify for assistance in English as a second language compared to 10.7% statewide, and have a 9% mobility rate (in and out of the district) compared to 7% statewide. The teaching staff has an average of 14.4 years' experience, and 48% of the teaching staff has earned a Masters degree, 90% of the teachers this year are back from last year, and the District is spending an average of $8,354 per pupil, compared $12,793 statewide. The district's graduation rate is 92.4%, compared to 86.9% statewide, the attendance rate is over 96%, and the teacher to pupil ratio is below 20 students per teacher. The district's dropout rate is 1.1%.

The Board removed a senior year semester required class in Speech, and made it an elective class. EHS Principal Kurt Roberts said the things taught in the class can be learned in other courses, and said the change will make the class a more "career-helping" endeavor.

Doan recognized the Board members for their service, noting that this Wednesday will be School Board Members Day in Illinois. Board members are Jeff Michael, Carol Ruffner, Todd Schaefer, Jane Willenborg, Angie Byers, Kathleen Smith and Patty Russell.

In personnel moves, the Board employed Michael Woltman as assistant boys basketball coach, overseeing the sophomores, approved leaves of absence for Cynthia Mapes and Jackie Haarmann, accepted the resignation of Nick Bushue as paraprofessional and assistant football coach, and approving the retirement of EHS Custodian Wanda Leonard as of December. Leonard has worked in the school district for 38 years.