We just finished up our August 2015 School Board Meeting. We covered our normal business, but there are three things citizens of Van Meter should be thinking about for the upcoming school year. They are all related topics and issues you might want to talk to Board members about.
September 8, 2015 is the School Board Election. There are two seats available and four individuals running. Jose' Angel, Brent Haynes, Dan Koster (incumbent,) and Sarah Moore have all decided to put their name in the hat to serve on the board for a four-year term. This is a huge commitment and important to our district. Board members are true servants to our community as they help shape the direction of our district by setting policy and provide input on our vision for what we want our students' learning experiences to be like. They help set our budget and determine where we spend district money. They do this, yet receive no pay for serving. Your input on who represents you is important. Please take the time to vote on Tuesday, September 8. More information about the candidates can be found here.
Also, on the ballot September 8 is the continuation of the Voter Approved Physical Plant and Equipment Levy. If approved by a simple majority, the district can use the generated funds for the following purposes:
- purchase and improvement of grounds
- construction of schoolhouses or buildings and opening roads to schoolhouses or buildings
- purchase, lease, or lease-purchase of equipment or technology exceeding $500 per transaction
- payment of debts contracted for the erection or construction of schoolhouses or buildings, not including interest on bonds
- procuring or acquisition of library facilities
- repairing, remodeling, reconstructing, improving, or expanding the schoolhouses or buildings and additions to existing schoolhouses
- expenditures for energy conservation
- rental of facilities
- purchase of transportation equipment for transporting students
- purchase or lease-purchase of school buildings
- equipment purchases for recreational purposes
- payments to a municipality or other entity as required under section 403.19, subsection 2 [TIF]; and demolition, clean up and other costs incurred within two years of a natural disaster.
Revenues may not be used for employee salaries or travel; supplies; printing costs or media services; or for any other purpose not expressly authorized by Iowa Code. More information from the Iowa Department of Education can be found here.
This is not a tax increase. It is a continuation of a voter approved levy from 2008. The community has supported the PPEL since 1999. If you have questions contact a board member or the district office. The District has also created a flyer that has some information. It can be found here.
Another topic of discussion was our increasing enrollment. Last year's student enrollment served was 675 with 23.9% of those students choosing to come here through open enrollment. We anticipated a growth this year of about 25 students. Though it is not official and enrollment can still change, we are anticipating being closer to 725 students for the 2015-16 school year. The estimated percentage of open enrolled in students is almost identical at 24%, but the District and the Board are having discussions on how to manage the open enrolled in population of students. In the past, the District has limited open enrollment for certain grade levels to help control the growth. We are having those discussions again. By October, we hope to have a plan in place to help manage our enrollment moving forward. Though the revenue open enrolled students provide helps increase opportunities for all of our students, we will need to make some decisions to help maintain our mission of personalizing learning for each students' success.
October 1, 2015 is the official count date, but as a point of reference, in 2003, we had 512 students, in 2009 we had 611, and as mentioned, it looks like in 2015 we are going to be closer to 725, so we need to continue to have discussions on the best way to manage our growth. If you have any questions, contact any of our Board members or the District Office.
As patrons of our community, we hope you are engaged in the conversation and participate in the election on September 8, 2015 to determine our Board members and the voter approved PPEL. Again, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me.