GRANGEVILLE — “My thought is, we will know more down the road than we do now,” trustee Casey Smith, Clearwater, said at the Mountain View School District 244 Dec. 20 board meeting.
Smith’s comments came after a lengthy public input session and discussion regarding a levy for the 2022-23 school year. About 25 people were in attendance in the audience, and more than 10 patrons spoke out either against a levy and/or for a more transparent, easier to understand financial process. Patron comments were summarized in last week’s paper.
“I got laughed at last year when I said more CVOID funds were coming — but they did,” Smith continued. “I feel like we should wait until May [and see what happens]. President Biden just cannot give enough money away.”
Grangeville trustee Melisa Kaschmitter moved to hold a March levy in the amount of $1.7 million. This was seconded by Kooskia’s Lacy Myers for the purpose of discussion. The motion was later voted down as trustees made the decision to wait for more financial information before settling on a levy amount and an election date.
“What will we use to buy down the remainder of money needed?” questioned Grangeville trustee Katie Matthews via phone. “It’s very evident from our community’s response that COVID has been rough on everyone, but that’s not negating the fact we have a total $4 million-plus shortfall.”
Smith said he felt money from the state, forest funds and American Rescue Plan (COVID funds) would be able to cover the district’s shortfalls.
“It sounds to me like there’s a lot more COVID funds to come,” he said to a thunderous applause and hollers from the audience, which led to chair Rebecca Warden, Grangeville, rapping her gavel to restore order in the room.
“Heating, food, fuel, shipping — all costs are up,” Smith continued. “We’re in tough times and I don’t think people are in the mood for a tax increase.”
Matthews voiced worry that deciding in May would be too late to make any needed cuts and provide adequate notice for staff.
“I’m kind of with Casey on this,” new trustee Myers said, adding she felt like the discussion should be for the new board coming on in January, adding, “I don’t know that the people in my area would even support a $1 levy right now. I agree with waiting.”
Kaschmitter said she did not feel it is fair to staff not to run a levy in March and otherwise had “no idea which direction to go. But I’m OK with waiting until January,” for further discussion.
The January meeting is set for Monday, Jan. 17, 5:30 p.m., at the district office in Grangeville.