Despite an anticipated increase in local tax revenue, the total tax levy will remain at $3.43.

R-7 Board contemplates best strategy on how to accept $6M in rescue plan funds

Anticipated local tax revenue jumps 7.5%

It’s safe to say the Webb City R-7 School District isn’t hurting financially right now.

The toughest question facing School Board members is whether they should accept close to $6 million in federal money at once or split it into two fiscal years.

The district is set to receive $5,940,860 in what’s commonly known as ESSER III  funds (American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief).

Funding is from the federal government but distributed by the Missouri Legislature, which isn’t expected to do so until spring 2022.

In the meantime, the School Board on Tuesday approved a preliminary plan on how to spend the ESSER III funds, which is due to be submitted to the state by Aug. 23.

The board has flexibility on how it will spend 80% of the money, but it is required to spend 20% ($1,196,172) on making up educational progress that kids lost during the pandemic.

Brenten Byrd, assistant superintendent for instructional services, said he believes Webb City is in a better position to recover “learning loss” (a term used) than some because the district’s instruction was mostly in-person last year.

Board member David Collard said, “There have to be some students who have struggled more than others. Can we reach them?

“I want to make sure we don’t miss those kids – not let kids fall through the cracks.”

Byrd replied that there are intervention teams in every school. “Our goal is to catch them all (before they fall through the cracks).”

Rossetti explained that the district can take as long as it wants to spend the majority of the ESSER III funds. “These dollars will affect this district for the next 10-12 years,” he predicted.

TAX LEVY REMAINS THE SAME

The district’s assessed valuation has improved to a degree that the general fund might have to be reduced if it weren’t already at the state minimum of $2.75 per $100 in assessed valuation.

School Board members met early Tuesday to conduct the annual public hearing on setting the tax levy for coming year. No one from the public attended.

The board voted to retain the total levy of $3.43, of which $2.75 is for the general fund and $0.68 is for the debt service fund.

The district’s assessed valuation, set by the Jasper County Assessor’s Office, is $296,615,470, which is $755,484 more than last year.

Anticipated revenue from the general ($2.75) tax levy is expected to increase by $637,903 to $6,130,301, which Rossetti said is substantial.

From the total ($3.43) levy, the district is estimated to receive $755,484 more than last year to exceed $10 million ($10,173,911). That’s a 7.5% increase, while the budget approved to start July 1 conservatively figures a 3% increase.

Of the $755,484 increase in anticipated revenue, $584,597 (77.38%) is attributed to reassessment.

New construction in the district fell from $6,244,260 to $4,982,140

“If you’re asked,” Rossetti told board members. “We can’t roll back because we’re at the state minimum.”

ENDING BALANCE GROWS TO $14 MILLION

The preliminary Annual Secretary of the Board Report, published by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, was presented to the board.

Rossetti called attention to the amount of total revenue and balances, $71,658,769, which minus expenditures of $57,249,488, leaves the district with an ending balance of $14,409,281. That’s 24% of what it takes to operate the district for a year.

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