By Todd Wineburner
The Pontiac District 429 school board this week passed a tax levy of just over 5.3 million dollars. Superintendent Kevin Lipke says it's slightly higher than last year, but he says Equalized Assessed Valuation has dropped since last year, and that allows the district to adjust accordingly. Lipke says another factor influencing the board's decisions is the lack of substantive information out of Springfield. The General Assembly has already pro-rated general state aid to schools, and another reduction is probably in the near future, even though lawmakers haven't yet decided how much that cut should be. Lipke says there's also a great deal of talk out of the capital about pension reform, and school administrators all over the state are concerned that pension costs are going to be passed to local school districts.
In other action, the District 429 board has passed a resolution that endorses the proposed county-wide sales tax for educational facilities. If approved by the voters in April, that 1 percent tax would provide a new revenue source that would allow schools to improve or repair their buildings, ensure compliance with access statutes, or relieve construction-related debt.
The board also approved a calendar that, for the first time, meshes with the calendar for Pontiac District 90 schools. Lipke says final exams and other factors keep the two calendars from matching exactly, but teacher institute days, school improvement days, and other dates with special schedules match as completely as possible.
While in the studio, Lipke also commented on the deeply disturbing events in Connecticut. He said the safety of the students is a high priority at District 429, and that school personnel are continually training to make sure they're engaging in as many preventative measures as possible, as well as working on plans and drills to make sure emergency procedures are understood and practiced.