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Lack of teacher contract costly in Milton

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Stacy Vogel
August 5, 2008
— The lack of a teachers contract could end up costing Milton School District taxpayers this year.

District business manager Dianne Meyer is estimating the districtís tax levy will increase 12.6 percent in 2008-09, even though the district isnít adding or changing any programs. She estimates the tax rate will increase 7.3 percent to $8.11 per thousand.


District voters will get the chance to vote on the preliminary budget at the annual meeting Monday, Aug. 18.


The increase all comes down to teacher contracts and state aid, Meyer said. The district set aside money for an increase in teacher salaries for 2007-08, but it didnít spend that money because the teachers and district didnít agree on a new contract.


To the state, it looks like Milton took in more money than it spent last year, so the state will give the district less aid in 2008-09, Meyer said.


The funding loss isnít permanent: If the district settles on a contract in the next school year, the district will pay out the salary money it set aside, she said. It will then get more state aid in 2009-10 because it will look like the school spent more than it took in for 2008-09.


Thereís still a chance the district wonít lose the state aid this year if the district and teachers come to an agreement before Oct. 1, Meyer said.


The teachers have been working under an expired contract since July 1, 2007. The two sides are scheduled to meet with a mediator Thursday, Aug. 21.


ďHopefully, when we meet with the teachers and we have our mediator present, we can get a settlement,Ē Meyer said.


The teacher contract is one of four unknowns in the preliminary budget proposal, Meyer said. The other three are:


-- Enrollment. The district has been growing by about 100 students a year for the last three years, but it doesnít know how local layoffs will affect the student population, Meyer said.


-- Property values. Meyer created the budget proposal assuming the district will see a 5 percent increase in property values this year.


-- State aid. The amount of state aid the district will get isnít final yet.


The district will get a clearer idea of its financial situation in the fall before voting on a final budget in October.


A look at the preliminary 2008-09 budget for the Milton School District:
Total budget

2008-09 $33 million


2007-08 $31.5 million


Increase 4.7%


Tax levy

2008-09 $13 million


2007-08 $11.6 million


Increase 12.6%


Tax rate

(Per $1,000 of valuation)


2008-09 $8.11


2007-08 $7.56


Increase 7.3%


Note: Percent changes calculated on whole numbers.


IF YOU GO
What: Milton School District annual meeting.
When: 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 18.
Where: Northside Intermediate School, 159 Northside Drive, Milton.

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