Taxes and athletics were the focus of the Unit 3 Palestine school board meeting Monday night.
Because the state is failing to meet its obligation to school districts, the districts are being forced to levy more in local tax money. Palestine Superintendent Joe Sornberger explained to the board that this year's levy will result in a 13.6 percent aggregate increase.
Sornberger said he has been working with Crawford County Supervisor of Assessments Hope Weber to get a estimate on local assessments and how that would translate into tax money collected. Using those numbers and Unit 3's budget numbers, it was determined that the annual levy would have to be increased by 11 percent. Because the increase exceeds 105 percent of last year's tax collection, a truth-in-taxation hearing is required.
The proposed tax levy will be on display in the unit office and a hearing will be Monday, Dec. 17, at 5:50 p.m.
Palestine will be leaving the Little Illini Conference and joining the Little Okaw Valley Conference for the 2014-15 school year. The board approved leaving the LIC and joining LOVC. The Oblong and Cumberland school districts have already joined the LOVC.
Sornberger said it is a question of safety for players and being able to compete with similar-sized schools. The LIC recently added Robinson, Jasper County, and Olney to the conference, and will be adding Paris to fill the vacancy left by Oblong. Sornberger said that puts the biggest school at 619 students and the smallest at 212. In the new conference the largest school would only have an attendance of 285 students.
Sornberger also said they will be scheduling boys' and girls' games together to cut down on travel expenses, and will have reciprocal agreements with all schools with regard to travel. He also noted that the conference will be divided into two divisions to cut down on travel.
In other business, the board approved the early graduation of Rachel Houser, approved the resignation of Jay Prindable as golf coach and posted the position, approved the transfer of $4,000 from the transportation fund to the operation and maintenance fund, and posted the position of substitute bus driver.
The board also had a first reading on a number of policy changes, and hired Rhonda Manship as assistant girl's high-school basketball coach, Eric Allensworth as a volunteer assistant coach, Abby Payne as a route driver to Olney, and Sherry Thompson as substitute custodian.
Those interested in filing to run for the Unit 3 school board need to due so between Dec. 17 and Dec. 24. Joe Sornberger and Marita Stoltz have been designated by the district to receive the petitions.
The next scheduled meeting will be Monday, Dec. 17.