Last year, the Marcellus School District conducted a paper-and-pencil survey to engage the community in a dialogue about what academic and extracurricular programs it wanted to maintain. This year, Marcellus takes to the web with an electronic survey, in an effort to gauge the community’s level of satisfaction with the school district and also seek some direction from residents about the state’s new property tax cap threshold.
The 11-question survey asks respondents about their relationship to the district (for example, do they have children enrolled in Marcellus schools?); their level of participation in Board of Education elections; and the percentage of property tax increases they’re willing to shoulder in 2012-13.
According to a new state law in effect for the 2012-13 budget year, if a school’s budget exceeds its property tax levy cap threshold, which is determined by a complicated formula, voters must approve it by a super-majority (60 percent or more). If voters reject the budget twice, the district then must adopt a budget with the same levy as last year, with a 0-percent increase.
Based on the governor's budget proposal released Jan. 17, administrators are anticipating Marcellus will face a $2.5 million budget gap for the 2012-13 school year.
“The government is really making an effort to control all four dials that impact public education: local property taxes, state mandates, state aid and laws governing collective bargaining,” Superintendent Dr. Craig J. Tice said. “All the more reason for residents to become advocates for the programs they want maintained, and to speak up about whether we should exceed the property tax cap threshold.”
Before board members move forward, they want a sense of how voters are leaning. Is maintaining excellence in school programming at Marcellus more important than a tax increase? Less important? Let the board know by taking the survey.
“The board is trying to engage the community before those decisions are made,” Tice said. “This is the last bastion for local control regarding public education.”