By Todd Wineburner
The Pontiac District 429 board passed a tentative tax levy of over 5 million dollars at its last meeting, and Superintendent Kevin Lipke says that figure should not lead to a tax increase. Lipke says the real issue is that local property taxes are just the beginning of the school funding discussion. General state aid to schools has already been pro-rated to 89 percent of expected levels, and school administrators are being told that another 9 percent is likely to be cut, leaving schools with 80 percent of projected revenues. In response, many school districts are looking at a relatively new law that allows county-wide sales taxes for school facilities. Lipke says district 429 has done its part by passing a resolution to put the issue before voters next year. If enough other districts do the same, the question of a county-wide sales tax will appear on the ballot, but he stresses that the revenue would only go to improve aging buildings.
Lipke says he’s also working to make his district more responsive to community needs. He and District 90 Superintendent Jon Kilgore are developing school calendars that are closely aligned, so that families can take advantage of planned school closure days as much as possible.
For ongoing initiatives, Lipke has formed a programs committee within the district that’s tasked with reinstating programs that were cut under budget pressures. Lipke says a top priority is restoring instructional time, so the committee is focusing on extending the school day while staying within budget restraints. With declining state funding, Lipke says the district can’t afford fiscal irresponsibility.
Superintendent Lipke was a recent guest on WJEZ's Community Forum, weekday mornings at 9:06.