School millage renewal: itís a smart investment in our childrenís future
St. Charles Parish School Board
St. Charles Parish voters will decide on Saturday, March 31, 2007, whether or not to renew two separate millages for the St. Charles Parish Public School System.
The funds from this millage make up 35.7 percent of the General Fund Revenue for the operation of the school system. What makes it so vital is that it is a consistent revenue source - unlike sales tax revenues which are more like a rollercoaster. This millage is not for new programs, it is to continue the existing programs currently in place.
This millage renewal will not lead to higher taxes for the citizens of St. Charles Parish. In fact, school millages have decreased 5% since 1997.
Although millage rates have decreased, the school system has been able to provide the students of St. Charles Parish with quality educational opportunities in addition to building an adequate fund balance.
Some people have questioned the need for the school system's fund balance. The school system must maintain a solid fund balance to ensure financial stability. Two recent events demonstrate why it is critical to maintain an adequate reserve.
1. Homeowners can relate to property insurance increases since Hurricane Katrina. The school system's property insurance rates did not increase. However, coverage for hurricane protection has been reduced from $200 million to $10 million.
A school cannot be rebuilt for $10 million. This means that the school system is basically insured by FEMA.
2. The other major funding issue is the state funding formula for K-12 education. A new proposal approved by the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Finance Committee includes the phase out of the "hold harmless" provision of the formula.
When phased out, the school system's revenue from the State will be reduced by $9 million dollars annually.
There are other financial concerns that the school system has to address. These include rising costs in the following areas: health insurance, special education costs and retirement costsProposition #2
Like Proposition #1, this is a continuation of an existing millage. Even though the school system's building square footage has increased by 21% in the past ten years, current millage rates (along with supplements from the General Fund) have been used to maintain excellent facilities.
The citizens of St. Charles Parish cannot rely on state and federal support to fund the quality of education provided here. The renewal of the two millages will enable the school system to maintain the quality education that all stakeholders expect and deserve.
"The true costs depend on what we believe is important for our students," says Superintendent Rodney Lafon.
"If we truly value education and are committed to creating a quality educational system not only for present students but for future generations, we must be willing to create learning environments which best accomplish this community goal."
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