WOODWARD — The public was invited to comment, inquire and discuss the upcoming PPEL (Physical Plant and Equipment Levy) vote in the Woodward-Granger school district before Monday’s meeting, but, despite 30 minutes allotted for such interaction, there were no takers.
The current PPEL began in 2008 and is set to expire in 2018. Only 126 voters in Woodward voted in the last election on continuing the tax, and while it failed to generate the necessary 50 percent-plus-one-vote total necessary for the PPEL to continue, the board can continue to ask approval during each special election.
The current PPEL is set at $1.34 per $1,000 valuation on the property tax of those in the district. While the board may (and has) approve a 33 cent charge without a public vote, the remainder of the fee does require approval of the voters.
Superintendent Brad Anderson expressed his hope the measure would be continued at the September 13 vote, noting that “every year PPEL saves us from paying for necessary items and projects that would otherwise have to come from the general fund.”
He noted PPEL funds can be used only for facility or technology purchases and that the existing levy is providing from $3.5-$5 million over a 10-year span.
“It is not a new tax,” Anderson said. “It is already in place. The vote is about whether to keep it in place or not. If not, the economic impact on a growing district like ours will be something I don’t want to think about.”
PPEL funds are allowed to be used for building and facility safety and security upgrades as well as the purchase of buses and other transportation that would otherwise come from the general fund. Other uses include the maintenance and updating of technology tools, athletic and arts facilities and for any infrastructure needs created by district growth.
Jeff Harney addressed the board to express his concerns about the possible need for an additional wrestling coach at the middle school.
Anderson reminded those gathered that the district had been forced to make staff cuts in the past year, and hiring an additional coach was unlikely. He noted that the district was spending $6,000 for a newly constituted cross country team at the high school.
“I understand the concern about the youth wrestling and the reasons you brought up are good ones,” Anderson told Harney, “but lets wait and see what the numbers (of participants) are. If it becomes a matter of student safety, then there will be two coaches.”
Granger Mayor Cathy Fuson and councilman Mike Backous attended the meeting and inquired about a matter that generated much discussion — the fees charged to differing levels (classifications) of those wishing to use school facilities.
School Board President Becky Carroll and Director Dan Jamison quickly agreed that parties not affiliated with the school or city of Granger or Woodward should pay a higher rate than others for use of gyms, buildings, fields, etc.
Lengthy discussions were held concerning the various rates currently charged, with the board — Director Troy Janssen agreeing with Carroll and Jamison — voting to increase certain rates, adjust some classifications and grant the superintendent the ability to adjust rates in the future. Board members Derek Petry and Jennifer Benbow were not present.
The board heard construction updates for district projects, including an update the successful avoidance of paving (thus saving nearly $750,000) the parking lot at the football complex. Some 200 tons of additional gravel was placed at the site, allowing for improved conditions and safety.
An increase in enrollment brought to light the need to purchase additional computers for students, who, once enrolled in grade six, are allowed to take their laptops home.
In other action, several pay applications were approved, as was an agreement with 21st Century Sports Rehab for athletic trainers.
Anderson noted the need for the district to purchase a new half-ton truck with a blade for use in snow removal. He informed the board the current truck was unlikely to last through another winter, while the current blade was in even poorer condition.
A bid of $6,500 for a new blade, including installation, had been submitted, with Anderson seeking — and receiving — approval to search for a used truck in the $15,000-$20,000 price range.
Janssen is seeking re-election to his seat, and that vote, along with seeking approval to extend PPEL will both be on the ballot for the September 13 special election.
The Wooodward-Granger School Board will hold their next meeting September 19 at 6 p.m. in Granger.
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