The Redwood Area Board of Education hosted a Truth in Taxation public hearing Monday night during its regular November board meeting, but no one  showed up.
The hearing is held by state law each year in late November or December to provide a chance for the public to hear about the school’s budget and to raise questions about the levy being proposed to be paid by taxpayers in the coming year.
According to Scott LeSage, school district finance officer, what makes schools different is that the taxes being levied for 2017 will not be used by the school until July 1. School districts are on a different fiscal year, as it runs from July 1 through June 30. So, the budget information available at the hearing is for the current year but the taxes being collected are for the coming fiscal year.
The good news, said LeSage is that the school district’s levy is going to be lower than one year ago. The question posed to the school board was how much of a decrease that would be. In the end, the board approved a 6.82 percent decrease for the coming year.
The total levy dollar amount is $3,012,293. Within that amount are various levy categories, including the referendum levy of $1,291,032, which represents a decrease of $220,876 over the actual amount paid in 2016 – a 14.6 percent decrease, the community service levy of $115,900, which is $8,143, or 6.57 percent, less than 2016 and the debt service levy of $1,605,360, which is an increase of $8,386 (.53 percent) over 2016.
The reductions, said LeSage are due to an increase in state aid to the school district. As more funding comes from the state there is less that is required to be levied locally.
The school board discussed the possibility of reducing the levy even further but opted to include a $99,480 allocation in the levy for the alternative teacher compensation (Q Comp) program.
According to Rick Ellingworth, RASD superintendent, up to this point the Q Comp program has used state allocated funds only, as it provides financial incentives to teachers who meet their goals and pays for those staff members who have taken on added leadership roles as peer evaluators, professional learning community leaders and members of the Q Comp advisory board.
Those dollars being provided for Q Comp can also be used for staff development. The breakdown of the additional $99,000 funding is going to be decided at a later date.
Any incentive dollars not paid out to teachers who don’t make their goals are rolled over to the next year.
The idea is to provide added incentive dollars and staff development options for teachers to help reduce teacher turnover.
“We need to do something to help keep the great teachers we have here,” said John Salmon, school board member.
Ellingworth added the levy amount in the not-too-distant future is going to be reduced dramatically, as the school district’s taxpayers see the debt service levy on the school come to an end.
He said the next few years are going to be important as the school board considers the future of its buildings and any potential levy funds for those future building projects.
In other action during its meeting Monday, the school board:
• Accepted the June 30, 2016 financial audit of the school district as presented by Mike Uhlenkamp of Uhlenkamp, PLLP. The audit is set to be officially approved at its December meeting.
• Accepted the resignations of Jackie Ferrier from her role as finance clerk; Brian Hennen from his role as middle-school tennis coach; Angela Wads-worth from her role as an early childhood paraprofessional and Bob Kaupang from his role as middle-school baseball coach.
• Approved the employment of Jessica Halvorson as an early childhood paraprofessional at a rate of $11.50 per hour; Jenae Heiling as student support services secretary at a rate of $13.50 per hour and Janet Bailey as an early childhood special education paraprofessional at a rate of $11.50 per hour.
• Approved the employment of Daniel Argetsinger as JV hockey coach at a stipend of $1,498 and Kyle Hicks as junior high girls basketball coach at a stipend of $1,846.
• Approved the employment of Amanda Boushek as a high school math teacher at a salary of $44,000 prorated for the 2016-17 school year starting  Dec. 22.