The Waterloo Board of Education repeatedly thanked the community on Thursday for approving the school district's five-year, 5.9-mill emergency levy earlier this month, and stressed that the district must stay cautious with its finances.
Board President Brian Pusateri thanked voters, the Waterloo Community Action Committee, volunteers and board members.
"We really appreciate it, and we are going to continue operating very fiscally responsible," Pusateri said. "The last levy that was passed was in 1995 was slated to last three to five years and it lasted 18 years. We're going to do everything we can to make (this levy) last as long as possible."
The 5.9-mill emergency levy will raise about $940,000 per year beginning in 2014, saves Waterloo from entering state control and allows the district the chance to gain financial security after making about $2 million in operating cuts during the past two years.
The district plans to use the money to maintain Waterloo's current operations without bringing back programs and staffing that were eliminated with cuts.
For now, the board still has a levy request on the May ballot. It was added as a precaution if the February levy request failed.
Superintendent Andrew Hill said the Portage County Board of Elections won't have the February special election results certified until the end of the month. After the election results are finalized, Hill said a resolution to remove the request from the May ballot will be on the school board's March agenda.
"The board of elections has made it very clear to us that they don't anticipate anything happening, but because they don't have a deadline that we're up against to be able to pull off the ballot, we may as well wait until we officially have the certification," Hill said.
The board was questioned on the possibility of eliminating or lowering the $300 pay-to-play fees that were tacked on to extracurricular activities, and responded after some discussion that it is too soon to eliminate or lower the fees.
The district's current five-year forecast accounts for pay-to-play fees, and the district won't see any levy money until 2014.
"As we see how things happen and have done some internal changes that will save us money, I do believe that this should be a discussion for next school year in my mind," Hill said.
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