St. Libory seeks to maintain education fund rate on March ballot

St. Libory district voters will see a proposition about the education fund rate on the March 15 primary ballot; although the word “increased” is on the ballot measure, the school superintendent says it’s not an increase.

“Taxes won’t go up,” said Stuart Parks, superintendent of St. Libory Community Unit School District 30. “The district five years ago passed a referendum ... exactly like this one.”

Dina Thurlow with the St. Clair County Clerk’s office said the rate has been set for five years, because it was requested that way by the previous superintendent. She said this vote, if passed, would make the rate as of last year permanent.

Parks said the previous referendum that increased the rate to 2.4508 percent passed “by a large margin.” That rate expired at the end of December, and if the rate decreases, “we’re going to be in trouble,” Parks said.

“State funding is inadequate ... that’s the largest part of it right there,” he said. “Our board does not want to pass bonds, so we have no bonds on our finances. As a result, we have to do something as far as offsetting the state sources of funding.”

According to the ballot measure, the extended educational tax rate would bring the district about $305,000 at 2.45 percent.

Parks said the district is improving its financial state.

“We’re slowly pulling out of a deficit; we’ll finish still in the red in the education fund (this year),” he said. “But not as large as it was three years ago, when it was in excess of $200,000. Now it’s more like $50,000.”

During the last three years, St. Libory has purchased new math and English curriculum, with help from $40,000 in grants teachers pursued. If the March proposition passes, Parks said the district will use the money for new science curriculum and instructional materials and hopes to bring back programs that were previously cut due to a lack of funding.

“That’s the direction we’re trying to go,” he said. “Fine arts, music, I’d love to have even on a partial basis.”

St. Libory has 80 students and spends about $3,600 on each student in instructional spending, according to the most recent Illinois School Report Card. In the first year of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers assessment, 45 percent of St. Libory students met or exceeded standards.