Aug 01, 2022

Extension of St. Joseph school levy to be decided on August primary ballot

Posted Aug 01, 2022 3:45 PM


St. Joseph Post

St. Joseph School District voters are being asked to extend the current levy for another six years.

Proposition READ on Tuesday’s ballot proposes continuing the 61-cent levy for another six years. It would not require a tax increase.

School Board President David Foster points out the board voted unanimously to place the levy issue on the August primary ballot.

“I think part of the reason why was we’ll have less pushback sticking with 61 cents, but this supports teachers’ salaries and it also supports preventative maintenance,” Foster tells Barry Birr on the KFEQ Hotline. “In that unanimous vote, I think that says a lot about why we probably have no formal opposition. And we have a lot of endorsements and a lot of people that have supported this.”

The levy is expected to raise $6.9 million annually. It would sunset in six years.

The St. Joseph School Board proposes spending the money on teacher and staff salaries, heating and cooling upgrades, and maintenance costs.

Superintendent Gabe Edgar says continuation of the current levy will help address teacher salaries, but also will help address problems plaguing the district.

“Attendance is our biggest problem, right now,” Edgar says. “I do think we will have a pretty good grasp on it moving into the 2022-23 school year.”

Discipline ranks second on Edgar’s priorities. But attendance and discipline are merely means to an end.

“We talk about attendance. We talk about discipline and we talk about communications and all of those things have to with improving academics,” according to Edgar.

Edgar says though a majority of the money will go toward teacher salaries, it will take more than money to attract and retain good teachers.

“I say this a lot, especially to the board of education, we’re going to have to start thinking outside of the box,” Edgar says. “We’re going to have to do something different than Platte County’s doing and Liberty’s doing and North Kansas City’s doing. In order to stay up in the game, that’s what we have to do.”

The St. Joseph School Board says the money will be used mainly to pay for teacher and staff salaries. It also will provide money to hire nine support staff to lower classroom sizes and come to the aid of classroom teachers. Two school psychologists will be hired under the board plan, as well as four additional school safety officers. Other safety measures are planned for numerous school buildings. Deferred maintenance throughout the district will be completed if the issue passes, according to the school board.

Click HERE for more information on the issue from the St. Joseph School District.