News Report Staff

Effingham Unit 40 School Board on Monday night approved a tax levy totaling $15,712,129 from property taxes collected in 2018.

The tax levy fund totals are $8,145,664 for Education; $2,213,495 for Operations and Maintenance; $885,398, Transportation; $221,349, working cash; Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, $400,000; Social Security, $415,000; Fire and Safety, $221,349; Tort, $1,460,000; Special Education, $177,079; Lease, $221,349; and Bond, $1351,442.

The vote by board members was approved unanimously by board president Jeff Michael, vice president Todd Schaefer and other board members Patty Russell, Angie Byers, Kathleen Smith and Jane Willenborg. Board member Carol Ruffner was absent Monday night.

The tax levy is based on an estimated equalized assessed valuation of $442 million for property taxed in the school district. Assistant Superintendent Jason Fox explained that is a high figure because it must be estimated at this point in the property tax cycle. The EVA expected is $430 million, he said.

The levy on 2017 property taxes in the school district is 5.21 percent above the amount sought last year by the school district. Three of the fund totals for the new levy – IMRF, Social Security and Tort – did not change from last year. The effect on the district tax rate will be favorable. It will be $3.60 per $100 of assessed valuation, which is down by about 3 cents.

With the levy at more than 5 percent of last year, the board conducted a Truth in Taxation Hearing for public comments. The only questions came from newspaper reporters with no one from the audience submitting questions.

In other financial business, the board approved paying monthly bills totaling $745,103. There were favorable figures on district finances with more state money catching up on some reimbursements. In addition, the second property tax distribution was forwarded.

A report on 2017 Report Card for Unit 40 revealed some interesting statistics.

The cost per pupil for Effingham schools is $8,354 compared to $12,973 as the state average. Effingham teachers average 14.4 years of teaching experience and 90 percent are retained. The schools average 96.2 percent on attendance. The dropout rate is 1.1 percent among Effingham students. The district is competitive on standardized tests as well.

A presentation by Early Learning Center instructors Jarielle Cameron and Kami Hefner reviewed the ELC Family Reading Camp-In that drew children and parents to the kindergarten center in October. The Camp-In used fun ways to explain strategies to help parents add to reading education at home. They showed images of families joining in games and challenges for improving reading. There was also a book fair offered that night and some flashlight reading sessions in tents.

In other business, the board approved changing the high school senior curriculum requirement on a speech class to a communications course enhancing career preparation such as personal communication with co-workers.

The board also approved hiring Michael Woltman as assistant boys basketball coach, and accepted the resignation of Nick Bushue as a paraprofessional and assistance football coach. Wanda Leonard is retiring in December as a high school custodian with 38 years of experience with the district.

Superintendent Mark Doan also recognized Illinois School Board Members Day by passing out certificates to the board members. Doan noted board members put in a lot of time between board meetings and also complete training to enhance their skills.

“Some people are quick to criticize board members,” Doan said. “But they make decisions in the best interest of the kids in the district.”