COLUMBIA — Representatives of two teachers' organizations offered their support Thursday morning to a 14-cent increase in the tax levy for Columbia Public Schools.
Kari Schuster, president of the Columbia Missouri State Teachers Association, and Susan McClintic, president of the local chapter of the Missouri National Education Association, both endorsed a proposal to increase the school district's levy from $4.77 to $4.92 per $100 assessed valuation.
They were the only members of the public who commented during a Thursday morning hearing on the tax adjustment, which was recommended by the Public School Administration.
“We are pleased that it got approved,” Schuster said in an interview after the board voted unanimously to approve the increase. “It’s a good thing in terms of moving the district forward.”
Schuster said that, in all likelihood, the $1.6 million generated from the tax levy will not be enough to raise teachers’ salaries.
The Board of Education approved the school budget in June, but since then the state has cut some of its funding, including $1.4 million for transportation.
Additionally, declining sales tax revenues from Proposition C, a statewide measure for education, are putting a strain on the budget.
“We’ve seen a tremendous decrease in personal property tax receipts in the past years,” Superintendent Chris Belcher told the board.
The increase keeps the levy below the district’s voter approved tax ceiling, which was set at $4.94 in 2003 and includes a debt service fund. The new tax levy takes effect Dec. 31 and will generate an estimated $1.68 million.