JACKSON – There will be a ballot question in the November 7 general election to raise an additional $4,035,000 for the school district.
The impact of this question for the average homeowner would be $96 a year to cover the cost of six guidance counselors, two student assistant counselors, eight interventionist teachers, 10 elementary school teachers, 12 secondary teachers, one nonpublic student coordinator, one nonpublic secretary, four child study team members and four English Second Language teachers.
School Superintendent Nicole Pormilli explained during that a recent board meeting that the staff positions were based on “the needs we see in our school buildings. These are positions above what currently exist.”
“If this is approved on November 7 it would result in a permanent levy tax-based change of the $4 million and then we get to add these positions to our district year after year and keep them,” she added.
Recently, school administrators said that a fight at one of the district’s two high schools had occurred. News of it had circulated within social media with reports that were not entirely accurate. The event was handled immediately by district staff and addressed in accordance with the school’s Code of Conduct.
The district declined to provide further details as student matters are not discussed publicly due to student privacy requirements. Pormilli said that such incidents were growing in number and were reflective of the need to add additional personnel to address mental health issues as well as substance abuse incidents.
“The mental health needs have increased. We are dealing with more social emotional issues, more conflict issues. We need a better ratio of counselors for students,” the superintendent said, noting the need for more substance abuse counselors as well.
Rosenauer Not For Sale
During the latest Board of Education meeting, Pormilli said one option off the table this year involved “a rumor that has been out there for ages in regards to selling Rosenauer school. It is a small elementary school and is intended to be a small elementary school.”
She added, “it is a wonderful neighborhood school. Many students walk to that school because it is a neighborhood school.”
Pormilli explained while the review showed that selling the building would provide some savings, the relocation of those students wouldn’t make it feasible.
“Currently, there would not be space in the two closest elementary schools. We also had to consider all those walkers that would now have to be bussed and that would be an additional expense. At this time, we have determined that closing the school would not be good for the district,” she said.
Loss Of 64 Positions
The adopted $165,790,499 budget included the loss of 64 positions. Business Administrator Michelle Richardson explained that the spending plan “contains a general fund tax levy increase of 2% which is the cap that the state allows.”
This will translate into a $2 increase for the owner of the average home assessed at $330,688. The tentative school rate is $1.4203 per $100 of assessed home value.
The loss in staff is in addition to the 151.5 staff reduction already realized in the last five years – bringing the total loss to 215 positions.
Pormilli said, “that is a reduction across all staffing. We reduced yet again our school budgets and put on pause any Tier 1 capital improvement projects unless they are related to safety. We’ve reduced much needed upgrades to our technology department. Due to the reduction in staff, we will see class sizes increase.”
The dire financial position was created by the bill commonly referred to as S-2. This transferred state aid away from some districts like Jackson and gave it to other districts. Local school officials have been fighting this change but have been unsuccessful in overturning it.