Tonasket School Board still working on final levy amount

TONASKET – The Tonasket School Board discussed the levy at their regular board meeting on Monday, Feb. 22 but decided they still needed more information to determine a final amount.

Superintendent Paul Turner explained to the school board that the district is currently running with funding of $271 per student. He said after adding the current Levy Equalization funds into the equation, the district is functioning at $1,357 per student.

“The crucial piece of information here is the amount of dollars generated by the levy with the equalization funds per student are still significantly lower than the other local school districts,” Turner said.

Board member Patti Baumgardner said she knows everyone wants to keep the tax burdens low but everyone also wants to educate their children.

“The community knows we can’t keep improving if we don’t increase our funding, but we can’t increase to the amount it would take to bring us up to par with the other districts,” she added.

Board member Lloyd Caton agreed but added it was for the sake of the children.

“Do I feel comfortable asking the community for more? In most circumstances, I’d say ‘no,'” Caton said. “But for the kids, I say ‘yes.’ Nobody hates taxes more than me, but this is a good and worthy cause.”

During their meeting, the board announced that classified staff members, Paul Schuldheisz, the assistant mechanic for the buses, and Robbie Monroe, a middle school teacher, have both been awarded Excellence in Education Awards. The awards dinner will be on April 21 at the 509 restaurant in Okanogan. The event starts at 6 p.m. with dinner and awards at 7 p.m.

“Both are excellent choices for the district,” Turner said.

Also in regards to classified staff, Turner read a proclamation from Governor Christine Gregoire about Classified School Employee Week.

“Classified school employees are involved in nearly every aspect of education, including maintaining school buildings and grounds, providing secretarial and clerical assistance, preparing and serving meals, providing safe transportation, keeping school facilities clean and orderly, assisting in the classroom, providing a secure environment and many other specialized services,” the proclamation states. “These dedicated individuals deserve recognition and thanks for the outstanding work they are doing for this state, their communities and the children enrolled in Washington’s public schools and there are nearly 50,000 classified school employees working with and helping children in Washington’s public schools and classified school employees are instrumental in fulfilling the state’s paramount duty to educate children and by supporting the learning environment, classified school employees are crucial partners with teachers, parents, administrators and school boards in public schools. I, Christine O. Gregoire, Governor of the state of Washington, do hereby proclaim March 8-12, 2010 as Classified School Employee Week.”

The school board approved the changing of the graduation time from 6 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 5 so that it will no longer conflict with the Tonasket Comancheros’ annual rodeo. They also approved the school calendar for next year. School will begin on Wednesday, Sept. 1 and end on Tuesday, June 14 with graduation on Saturday June 11. The last two weeks of December will be the usual Winter Break period while Spring Break will be the first full week of April.

The next regular board meeting will be on Monday, March 8 at 7:30 p.m.