MCS Takes Final Step

MCS Takes Final Step to Place Levy on March Ballot
Posted on 12/10/2019

During its December 10 meeting, the Mason City Schools Board of Education approved the second — and final — resolution necessary to place an operating levy on the March ballot.

It has been 15 years since Mason voters passed an operating levy. 

“We have very carefully controlled costs, listened to taxpayers about what is most important to them, and gone to great lengths to ensure that this levy would have as little financial impact on our community as possible,” said Matt Steele, Board President. “Careful planning and difficult choices have allowed us to maintain excellence without new levy dollars since 2005. But we have reached the point where we cannot maintain the quality that our community and families expect from our high-performing schools without making this very important request to our voters.”

Board members unanimously passed the resolution to place a 9.96-mill phased-in operating levy before voters on March 17, 2020. In January 2021, 4.71 mills will go into effect, followed by 5.25 mills in 2022. 

Due to prior taxes expiring as the high school’s mortgage is paid off, taxes will only increase by 4.71 mills over the current level - costing taxpayers $13.75 per month per $100,000 of appraised property value.

“The upcoming debt reduction created a unique opportunity for our residents to protect and maintain the district’s existing programs while paying a fraction of what it would have cost without the debt reduction, and I appreciate the vigilant planning of the Board that created this great value for our local taxpayers,” said Treasurer Shaun Bevan.

What Happens if the Levy Passes
Levy funds will be spent on the day-to-day operation of schools to continue providing the high-quality education our community values and expects. If approved, the levy would generate $20 million when fully-phased in. Currently, the district faces a $13 million deficit in 2022. Passage of the levy will:

  • Maintain current number of teachers, so that students can continue to receive individual attention
  • Preserve mental health intervention programs to identify and support at-risk students
  • Prevent cuts to current coursed in AP, college, and workforce preparedness
  • Continue current athletic, arts, clubs, and extracurricular opportunities for students
  • Keep existing, safe, and reliable transportation to and from school
  • Retain current security practices to keep schools safe and secure for students and staff

What Happens if the Levy Fails
Without the levy, significant cuts will be necessary – cuts that compromise the quality of education and our community. During his recommendation to place a levy on the ballot at the November 19 meeting, Superintendent Jonathan Cooper shared that should the levy not pass, the district would need to make more than $6 million in cuts in summer of 2020, which is the equivalent of nearly 80 staff positions.

Cuts the Board must consider, include:

  • Reducing safety, student support services, and mental wellness personnel & program investments
  • Significant cuts to teaching & staff positions, resulting in increased class sizes and less individualized attention at all grade levels
  • Elimination of various AP, honors, and career course offerings
  • Limiting athletics, arts, clubs, and extra-curriculars with increased participation fees
  • Implementing transportation efficiencies

Levy Flyer

 

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