During the board’s regular meeting Monday, members discussed and approved the levy of $1.13 per $100 of assessed valuation. This is 4.6 cents lower than last year’s levy.
The 2020-21 district budget is $48,819,174, which does not include cash reserves or the county treasurer balance. This is an overall budget increase of 3% from last year, which results in $1,597,515 more than the 2019-20 budget.
This budget increase of about 3% will fund recent cost of living pay increases for staff and includes an extra cushion for unforeseen costs, such as overtime or for temporary employee pay because of COVID-19, said Bill Robinson, associate superintendent.
One of the more prominent updates to this year’s budget is dropping the general fund levy to 95 cents while levying 10 cents in the district’s building fund. This will help pay for needed building improvements at Grant Elementary and Lincoln Montessori Elementary.
Some of the improvements include modifying both schools’ entrances to be more safe and secure; adding an elevator to Grant; and expanding Lincoln to become a two-track building.
These projects were part of a potential bond issue that was proposed in December, but the $24.8 million project has been put on hold. The district is still going forward with Grant and Lincoln improvements because they are crucial projects that were promised to the community, Robinson said.
“There may be questions about why we’re levying heavy in that building fund, but we illustrated the fact that we need to keep some of these priority projects and we want to move forward with those debt-free,” he said. “And then we can come back to that bond proposal at some time. When that is, I don’t know.”
NPS student enrollment also decreased for the first time since 2011 with 4,467 students registered in the district. Last year there were 4,574 students.
Superintendent Jami Jo Thompson said this decline is temporary and was mainly caused by parents choosing to home-school during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the enrollment numbers have affected funding, they will have a larger impact on state aid in 2021-22 because of this year’s sudden hike in Madison County property valuations.
This year the district received $12,002,823 in state aid, which was an increase of $439,985 from last year. But in 2021, administrators are anticipating a large decrease in aid, which could easily be as much as $2 million.
“We have looked at that, created a budget for this year and a plan — moving money from the building fund next year and bringing it back to the general fund after that to help offset that dip that we know we’ll have in state aid,” Thompson said.
NPS property itself soared 9.07%, while nearby districts saw increases of only 2-3%, Robinson said.
Property tax requests for this year are projected to be $31,775,264, which is $1,551,261 more than last year.
“I can’t believe that too many people will be upset to continue to see our overall levy go down,” said Bruce Mitchell, a board member. “Though we had nothing to do with the rise in valuations, it’s nice we can decrease a little bit of what we’re asking for to get some relief and keep the district financially secure.”
The Norfolk Public Schools board of education met for its monthly meeting Monday at 5:30 p.m. at the central administration office, 512 Phillip Ave.
The meeting lasted 90 minutes.
Board members present: Arnie Robinson, Bob Waite, Bruce Mitchell and Tammy Day.
Others in attendance: Several district administrators and about 20 members of the public.
ITEMS OF INTEREST
— The board approved a motion to review the back-to- school plan.
— Board members approved the suspension of the district’s hybrid learning option until further notice,
— The board approved the 2020-21 budget and tax resolution.
-— Approved the 2020-21 tax resolution.
— Approved the 2020-21 budget.
— Approved the first reading of board policy 5001 (admission requirements).
— Approved the first reading of board policy 1211 (Title IX procedure for complaints of sexual harassment).
— Approved revisions to the Central Office administration evaluation forms.
— Approved the Norfolk City Education Association as the collective bargaining agent for non-supervisory certificated employees for the 2022-23 school year.
FUTURE MEETINGS: The next meeting of the board of education will be at noon Thursday, Sept. 24. The next regular meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 12.