The Sherrard School Board passed a levy that lowers the school portion of residents' property tax rate last week.
The 3% levy increase over the previous year is projected to bring in $8,350,431, an increase of $243,216. The equalized assessed value (EAV) of properties contributing to Sherrard School District, however, is estimated to increase by 4.39%.
“The district was able to establish a levy that will generate additional income for the district while also, at the same time, lowering the tax rate. It’s a win-win situation for the district and the taxpayers," Superintendent Alan Boucher said. "We know these are uncertain times, during this pandemic, so the board wanted to have a modest request with the levy.
“For a person who owns a $99,000 property, their tax bill for the school portion will go down $20. If you own a $200,000 property, your tax bill is going down $40.”
He also property owners should be aware other taxing bodies may increase their portion — and potentially raise the overall tax bill — but the school portion will show a decrease.
The board discussed leaving the tax rate the same as the prior year at 4.6534. Board members were split on whether to keep it the same or lower the rate to 4.5913. The latter won out in a 4-3 vote after the topic was discussed at length.
Those who voted "yes" were Rhys Fullerlove, Sue Lyon, Dan Helm, and Todd Anderson; "no" votes were cast by Kim DeBlock, Troy Wolford, and John Cabor.
“The district continues to have strong finances and so we aren’t in a dire situation, like other districts might be, so we’re able to live modestly, and carefully, and still have financial health," Boucher said. "However, the district also realizes that financial health can be lost very quickly, so we need to continue to be vigilant and to continue operating within our means.”
He said the minimum wage increase won’t affect the district until the 2022/2023 school year. He said a conservative estimate of the cost to the district will be around $34,113.
Boucher said, as a five-day in-person school, they’ve been pleased so far with the first half of the school year.
"We have half a year now to look at how our decisions have an impact, we don’t believe there has been any virus transmission at school — that shows us that what we’re doing seems to be working," he said. "I think it’s because everybody has been working hard to sanitize things, social distance and have masks on. ... We’re very grateful for the low numbers we’ve had.”
He said it’s his intention to keep the current schedule for the remainder of the school year — including an hour late start and the option to attend five days in person, or be fully remote.
"(What) we have learned from watching other districts, and even our own remote students, is remote learning is very difficult for students," Boucher said. "Some students never check in at all; other students have technology problems. Some students don’t understand the directions or understand what the teacher is asking them to do. Remote learning has created a lot of challenges. We want to avoid that if we can. It’s my full recommendation that we stay with the five day schedule for all students who want to do in-person learning."
He said the district hopes to return to a traditional schedule by next fall.