Local residents are invited to submit questions for the Daily Guide's upcoming community forum on the school tax levy.
Residents living in the Waynesville School District will have a chance to have their questions and concerns addressed in an upcoming community forum March 15 about a tax levy that will appear on the April ballot.
There will be a $0.20 tax levy on the April ballot and voters will have to decide whether or not to pass it. In the past, readers have expressed concerns about the levy and the management of money by the district.
The Daily Guide has asked former Pulaski County Sheriff and local author, J.B. King, to act as moderator for the forum.
King has been in law enforcement in the Pulaski County area since 1969, has been on panels in other forums, and agreed to serve as moderator for the tax levy forum.
Waynesville School District Superintendent Dr. Brian Henry will be representing the school district and an organized concerned citizens group supporting the tax levy has also asked to take part. If there is an organized concerned citizens group against the levy that steps forward, they will also be allowed to take part.
Local citizens are encouraged to email, call, or drop by the Daily Guide to submit questions that will be given to these groups to answer during the forum. Questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, with tax levy in the subject line. Citizens wishing to submit questions via phone can call 336-3711 to give their questions. Readers are also invited to drop by and submit questions in person at 108 Holly Dr. St. Robert.
Citizens are also encouraged to attend the forum, but no questions will be taken during the forum. All questions must be submitted by March 10. The forum will be held at Hampton Inn, Wednesday, March 15, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
The Daily Guide plans to broadcast the forum live on Facebook via our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WaynesvilleDailyGuide.
The tax levy, if voters pass it, will raise personal property taxes for those living in the Waynesville School District, but the issue is about more than taxes for the district and the voters. The district says it could lose $8.5 million in federal money if they don't raise taxes.
Waynesville School District receives about 35 percent of its funding from the federal government through federal basic impact aid and heavily impacted aid. The district says that it is in danger of losing the heavily impacted aid or B2 aid.
B2 aid is money that the school district receives from the federal government because of the high number of military and Department of Defense dependent children who are students in the district. Waynesville can claim nearly three quarters of the district are the children of military or DOD employees. Many districts qualify for the basic impact aid because the requirement is three percent, but the number of students has to be more than 45 percent to receive B2 aid.
The problem the district is facing, according to Superintendent, Dr. Brian Henry, is that in order to qualify for the B2 aid, which currently represents about $8.5 million of the district's budget, the district has to have a tax levy comparable to other districts.
Waynesville is one of only two districts that receive B2 aid in the state and is one of approximately 22 districts who receive it in the country. The other district in the state of Missouri is Knob Noster, which serves Whiteman Airforce Base.
Henry said, in an interview with the Daily Guide back in November, that there is a "strong chance" that Waynesville will lose its B2 aid in "the near future" because it currently hovers "within a percentage or two" of the trend line the government requires for the tax levy in order to receive the aid.
So far, it seems, Daily Guide readers have been split on their opinions about whether or not to pass the tax levy. Comments received on Facebook tend to run pretty closely down the middle about how voters are feeling.
Attending the forum or submitting questions is a chance for readers to have their concerns addressed and the school district has agreed to answer those questions.