School board sets April election for vote on PPEL levy

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

On April 2, voters in the MFL MarMac Community School District will be asked if they would like to continue the district’s physical plant and equipment levy (PPEL). The MFL MarMac School Board unanimously approved the resolution setting the election date at its Jan. 21 meeting.

The levy consists of a combination of property tax on all the taxable property in the district, as well as a physical plant and equipment income surtax upon the state individual income tax of each individual income taxpayer resident in the district. According to the resolution adopted by the board, the percent of income surtax would not exceed 4 percent. Taxation would not exceed $1.34 per $1,000 of assessed property value in any one tax year.

Superintendent Dale Crozier said the levy is simply a continuation of what the district has had for the past 20 years.

“The surtax is the same. Everything is exactly the same,” he stressed.

If approved by voters, the levy would commence in the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2022 and be authorized annually for up to 10 years.

“We’re renewing it three years early,” explained Crozier, who said voters must approve the PPEL levy every 10 years.

The measure was supported by 84 percent of voters at the last election, he noted.

Crozier described PPEL funds as the district’s “bread and butter.”

“It will provide us funds for our infrastructure,” he said, helping with projects like roofs and lighting.

“People are not voting on a gym. That’s a separate issue,” he added, referencing the district’s potential plans to add more space for athletics. “We’re voting for our foundation.”

School calendar discussed

Although the board took no action, members discussed the calendar for the upcoming school year, specifically focusing on whether to change the district’s Wednesday early outs. 

For the past five years, school has dismissed an hour early, at 2:20 p.m., most Wednesdays, and staff members use that time for professional development, committee meetings and other activities. At a previous meeting, school board members felt it would be helpful to survey staff, gauging whether they felt the early outs should be held on a different day, or even less frequently.

Before winter break, teacher and instructional coach Heidi Meyer conducted a survey, which had a 50 percent response rate from staff, and presented findings at last week’s meeting. She said results were split pretty evenly, and suggested changes included full or half days of professional development, or a 1:20 p.m. early release twice each month.

“And there were a lot of really positive comments that they love it and value the time,” Meyer added.

Board member Jonathon Moser wondered if a two-hour chunk of professional development twice a month might give staff more time to work and collaborate. Another board member, Collin Stubbs, questioned if the time was getting taken up with too many meetings, rather than professional development.

“It does take some away,” responded high school principal Larry Meyer. Overall, though, he said the time works well as it is.  “Continuity is there. It’s better for the teachers if we have it on a weekly basis.”

Board president Gina Roys said people in the district also like the consistency of the days, especially for daycare.

Josh Grau agreed it is important to be mindful of employers and families in the district, and keeping a consistent schedule lessens confusion.

Crozier said he would develop some calendar options for the professional development committee to consider, then recommend for approval.

Staff changes approved

At the meeting, the board approved a contract for Virginia Pazour to serve as a part-time special education paraprofessional. They also accepted the resignation of elementary guidance counselor Kurt Gaylor, who plans to retire at the end of the school year. 

School receives donations

Crozier reported that the school district has received two donations. One, in the amount of $1,000, was from Norplex, and will be used for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities. The other, at $314.65, came from a shopping promotion spearheaded by Prairie du Chien downtown merchants and other local businesses.

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