Hallsville School District asking voters for 80-cent tax levy increase

Hallsville School District asking...

HALLSVILLE, Mo. - After a school year filled with more than $600,000 in cuts to its operating budget, Hallsville School District is hoping to pass an 80-cent operating levy in April.

The Board of Education approved the ballot language at its meeting in January. If approved, the levy would generate approximately $620,000 for the district's general operating purposes. The last time Hallsville residents approved an operating tax levy was in 1987.

"We've been deficit spending, money out of our savings account basically, for the past 10 years and whenever that depletes we need to bring in new revenues," said Marci Minor, a spokesperson for the school district.

The school board was forced to make cuts for the 2016-2017 school year to help refill the district's reserve fund following unexpected costs in a 2014 $1.8 bond project.

Minor said the school district is also looking into starting a school district foundation to help bring in more money.

"Even though we went through some cuts and we lost some programs, our teachers never reflected that in the classroom," Minor said.

However, Intermediate School Principal Stacy Fick said the cuts have made it more difficult for teachers to do their jobs effectively.

"It's hard when you're working so hard for kids and you're jumping through more and more hoops to get the job done," she said. "While I can tell the morale has been affected, they're trying to do their best every day."

A majority of the levy money would go toward teacher salaries and benefits, Minor said. The new money would also go toward updating technology like computers and adding school Wi-Fi.

Fick said the computers are old and there's not enough for students. She said the lack of school Wi-Fi makes it difficult for teachers to use the best technology in the classroom.

"Many years ago our district was right on the cutting edge of technology, and now I would say that we're not," she said. "It's really created a challenge for us because all of our statewide testing at the end of the year is online. We are really having to be creative to get this testing down this spring."

Minor said some other areas of focus for the money include updating their safety features and working to maintain smaller class sizes.

Fick said she hopes voters approve the ballot measure in the spring to help bring back some programs that were eliminated for the school year.

"Hopefully, if our community can come together around this, we can keep our school right on the right track and not skip a beat."

Voters will also decide on three vacant Board of Education positions in April.

Click here for more information on the proposed tax levy increase.

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