SRS funds change KSD levy plans ... for now

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KELLOGG — The Kellogg School Board (KSB) has announced that the district will no longer be looking to pass its proposed facilities and maintenance levy during the May 15 election.

The announcement was made during a KSB special workshop at Canyon Elementary School Wednesday night, where the intent of the workshop was centered around the recent approval of Secure Rural Schools (SRS) funds that the district has not received since the 2015-16 school year.

With SRS being recently renewed as part of Congress’s massive OMNIBUS spending bill last month, Shoshone County will being receiving both a back payment from last year and a payment for this year, this allowed KSB to change their plans for the 10 year, $5.75 million levy.

The Kellogg School District will receive payments of $334,840.15 (an amount that is 95 percent of what they received in 2015-16) for the 2016-17 school year, but they are getting $62,929.65 of that sequestered due to already accepting funds that were generated from timber harvests.

That money should be received by May of this year.

For the 2017-18 school year, KSD will receive $386,056.55, but again will have $75,012.50 sequestered after accepting funds from timber harvests.

In total, the school will receive $582,954.55 ($271,910.50 from 2016-17 and $311,044.05 from 2017-18) in SRS funds.

Kellogg School Board chairman Art Krulitz spoke to the board’s decision to not pursue the levy at this time, but did also say they are not shutting it down for good.

“We’re in a situation now where we aren’t going to run that levy right now,” Krulitz said. “We may be looking to another date down the road, but at least we knew with this money from SRS, that we could get some of our much needed projects done.”

For the district, those much needed projects still center around higher security at the district’s facilities, which could result in some facelifts at some of the schools.

Should KSD choose to run the levy in August or November, they could, but Krulitz said the board would go back to the drawing board in terms of dollar amounts and time frames.

Krulitz also acknowledged that the SRS, while a nice thing to receive, are not guaranteed and that is why they pursued the levy in the first place.

“The fact that we got this money now is great, but if we had something a little more concrete we would feel better,” Krulitz said. “If we had received the SRS funds sooner, we wouldn’t have levied that high to begin with. We didn’t expect these funds and we will probably reconsider the value and then re-evaluate where we go from there when the time comes. We all pay taxes, we don’t want to see taxes go up any higher than they absolutely have to.”

Residents in the Kellogg School District will still see the levy on the ballot next month as they have already been printed, and the voters are urged to still vote yes or no, which will provide KSD with potentially valuable information.

“It will essentially be nothing more than a straw poll for us,” Krulitz said.

That could potentially determine the board’s next move come future levy attempts.

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