School board extends instructional support levy, OKs early retirement offer

Residents of the Greene County school district will continue to pay a surtax on their Iowa income tax to bolster the school’s general fund.

The school board opened its regular meeting Nov. 19 with a public hearing on the instructional support levy. There were no comments from the public and the resolution to renew the levy was approved.

The current instructional support levy doesn’t expire until 2020. The action renews it through 2025. The levy includes the income tax surtax and a property tax levy. The income tax surtax cannot exceed 20 percent; what is levied is much less than that.

The board approved a voluntary retirement policy as it has the past several years. Teachers and other staff eligible for early retirement are those who will be at least 55 years old on or before July 1, 2019 and have worked for the J-S/East Greene/Greene County district for at least 10 years. The incentive is 45 percent of the teacher’s current year salary.

The district will not pay more than $200,000 total in early retirement incentives, including payroll taxes.

The deadline for early retirement applications is Dec. 19. Superintendent Tim Christensen estimated there are 10-12 staff members who would be eligible.

Christensen reminded the board that an early retirement policy is a financial tool for the district, not an incentive for teachers to retire. The district can save money by replacing retiring teachers, who are often at the top of the pay scale, with teachers closer to the bottom of the scale. It is also helpful in reducing staff when declining enrollment makes that necessary, as some reductions can be done through attrition rather than lay-offs.
The board pulled the resignation of long-time teacher associate Sharon Stalder from the consent agenda and then approved her resignation with a commendation for her 21 years of service to the district. Stalder will retire effective Jan. 1.

The board directed Christensen to continue working with Sebern Structural Services to write specifications for demolishing the former Grand Junction school. Sebern did the planning for the Scranton and Rippey school demolitions.

The board will hold a public hearing on the matter at its regular Dec. 19 meeting. Christensen said the demolition could be completed by the end of May.

The board appointed 26 persons to the 2018-19 School Improvement Advisory Committee as follows: students Arthur Bardole, Elizabeth Bravard, Kyle Hack and Melanie Doran; parents Ashley Johnston, Bridgett Allen, Chelsie and Justin Thompson, Danille Curtis, Jennifer Nicholson, Jessi Riley, Jill Hankel, Megan Fouch, Michelle Fields, Shannon Black and Tim Tucker; teachers Julie Neal, Kristen Heupel, Sara Stott and Tammy Brophy; administrators Brian Phillips, Scott Johnson, Shawn Zanders and Tim Christensen; and board members Catherine Wilson, John McConnell and Mark Peters.

The board postponed discussion of the coaches for the 2019 soccer season at Christensen’s request. He had prepared a recommendation to pay two head coaches, one for girls and one for boys. He said he wanted to do more work on the proposal before presenting it to the board. Last year, soccer’s inaugural year in the district, the coaches were all volunteers.

Complete minutes of the Nov. 19 board meeting can be accessed from the Calendar tab on GCNO.

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