At the October 10, 2016 School Board of Education meeting, the Board reviewed the proposed 5-year board approved Instructional Support Levy (ISL) resolution, as well as, the importance of the ISL funds for the school district. A public hearing to formally consider the district’s participation in the ISL program will be held on November 14, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. The ISL proposal is not a tax increase, it increases the district’s financial flexibility to invest in providing the best education for our students.
It is important that citizens understand what impact the ISL will have on our district. That starts with understanding how Iowa’s schools are funded. In Kindergarten – 12th grade funding, dollars used for educational programs (such as staff, professional development and materials) cannot be used for buildings, and vice versa. For example, the High School renovations and softball field renovations were paid for with the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) and state sales tax (SAVE) funds. The state imposes a maximum spending per student each year that cannot be exceeded locally, with very few exceptions. One of those exceptions is the Instructional Support Levy. Carlisle is one of only six districts in the state without an ISL and the only district in the metro area.
How will the district use the funds from the Instructional Support Levy? Additional spending authority will be used for all current General Fund purposes. Spending authority generated by the ISL will support current teaching and learning, current programming, and allow the district to continue expanding learning opportunities for students.
The question you may be asking yourself is, why have so many districts chosen to supplement the amount the state limits us? Simply, the state maximum amount is not sufficient to provide the level of education that virtually all districts in the state believe is necessary to provide a comprehensive education program for our children. Expenses such as diesel fuel, natural gas and other energy price increases come from the same pot of money that we fund our educational program with. These energy costs compete for the same dollars that teaching and learning do.
The district’s levy is composed of different “silos” of funds with specific purposes. The district’s plan of adding the ISL will not increase the current district levy amount. The district plans to reduce other parts (“silos”) of the district levy that do not generate spending authority, in order to balance out the implementation of the ISL. The result will be a levy that is either stable or possibly even reduced. The ISL could generate an additional $350,000 for the 2017-18 school year. The school board has the flexibility each fiscal year to determine the levy amounts.
Instructional Support Levy Frequently Asked Questions
What is an Instructional Support Levy (ISL)? It is a levy available to schools to increase the spending authority of the General Fund, which is the primary fund that supports teaching and learning for our students. It can be supported through a minimal addition to the local property levy rate. An instructional support levy can fund up to 10 percent of the regular program district cost as determined by the state education funding formula. The district’s ISL proposal will be solely funded by property tax. The Carlisle School District is planning to reduce other parts of the current levy rate that do not impact spending authority, in order to keep the current levy rate at either the same or a reduced level.
Why does Carlisle need the Instructional Support Levy (ISL)? Simply put, the district needs the financial flexibility to continue the work of providing our students with increased learning opportunities. Current funding allowances by the state legislature are insufficient and unpredictable. There is no need to raise the levy rate, and the Instructional Support Levy will not increase the local school levy rate, but the spending authority will allow continuing to offer a comprehensive program to students.
How can the district say that a levy will not increase the tax levy rate? The district plans to reduce other parts of the levy that do not generate spending authority, in order to balance out the implementation of the ISL. The result will be a levy rate that is either stable or possibly even reduced. So while the ISL does increase part of the levy rate, other parts will be reduced in order to not increase the total levy rate.
Do other districts have an Instructional Support Levy? Yes, nearly all do. There are only 6 out of approximately 333 districts in the state that do not have the ISL. Carlisle is the second largest district in the state without this source of finance flexibility. Every other district in Metro area has the Instructional Support Levy in place, as well as every school district in the Raccoon River Athletic Conference. 53 of the other 56 3A districts all across the state use an Instructional Support Levy to improve education in their communities. Without an ISL, Carlisle will have less spending authority per student than comparable districts in the state and metro area.
Is this a “Blank Check” for the district? Absolutely not! The school board approves the entire school levy each and every year. The Instructional Support Levy is no different. The board can use it, or not use it. It can be reduced to become a smaller amount if necessary. The district has taken many steps to become more efficient in the last few years, and will continue to do so. Implementation of the ISL will not relax accountability; in fact, it is a flexible tool that will be continually monitored. The district does not control all of the factors that influence the overall levy rate and no one has a crystal ball, but all information known now points to either a stable levy rate or decrease in the levy rate in the future.
What will ISL be used for? The district does not plan to raise the tax levy rate with the Instructional Support Levy. Additional spending authority will be used for all current General Fund purposes. Spending authority generated by the ISL will support current teaching and learning, current programming, and allow the district to continue expanding learning opportunities for students.
Thank you for taking the time to understand the complex world of school finance in Iowa and your continued support for our school district. As always, should you have any questions, comments, or concerns, I can be reached by phone at 515-989-3589 or via email at: email@example.com .