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Less Than Zero

The Island Trees School District Board of Education has proposed a $60.2 million spending plan for the 2014-2015 school year which comes with no reductions in staff, while maintaining existing programs. 

The budget, if approved by voters, will increase the tax levy by zero percent. Since property taxes are based on assessed value, Island Trees residents that have not petitioned their taxes this year can expect to pay about the same amount as they did in 2013-2014. 


“This was a very easy budget process compared to last year,” said Island Trees School District Superintendent Dr. Charles Murphy. 


In fact, the proposed levy increase is $957,334 under the state imposed 2 percent tax cap this year. 


However, because the levy and the tax rate increases differ slightly from home to home, not everyone is in the clear. 


According to Susan Hlvanka, the estimated tax rate is anticipated to increase by $8.03 per thousand dollars of assessed property value, which means some residents may still see a slight increase in their school tax bill, and some may even see a decrease. 


“As you can see by our calculations, as the total assessed value is reduced, the tax rate increases proportionally,” Hlavenka said.


According to Murphy, contract settlements with the four collective bargaining units in the district helped facilitate the zero percent levy increase proposed. 


In addition the district plans to spend $754,879 on new capital projects—$452,927 of which will be provided by state aid money. 


Despite a budget-to-budget increase of 1.89 percent, Murphy said that without counting the money the district is proposing to spend on capital projects, the budget would have only increased .62 percent overall. Capital projects proposed include renovations to the high school track, renovations to the little theater, a new generator for Memorial Middle School, an elevator for handicapped accessibility at Stokes elementary school and a door replacement project at the high school. 


Island Trees’ school budget also looks to implement new English and mathematics modules for students in grades K-11, a new middle school robotics club—at the request of Dr. Andrew Sass—and the addition of 20 new computers, 50 Google Chromebook tablets through a pilot program, 15 whiteboards and 25 Google Chromebooks for the Stokes library. 


School district elections will be held on May 20 at the Michael F. Stokes school.