The Lakeland Union High School District will head to a referendum vote on the Tuesday, Feb. 18 ballot to exceed its revenue limit by $3.45 million in a recurring operational referendum following approval from the district’s board of education last October.
In preparation for the referendum Tuesday, the LUHS Board of Education held six public information sessions to explain the district’s rationale behind pursuing referendum, the impact to the taxpayers, and how those funds would be allocated should the referendum pass.
If the referendum does pass, the district’s mill rate is expected to rise from $1.82 to $2.33 with the projected costs of taxpayers to rise approximately $52 per $100,000 of property value.
That increase in taxes would remain on the levy each year and would not accumulate.
Over the course of the six information sessions, district administrator and curriculum director Rob Way and business and finance manager Greg Kopp answered many questions from the public regarding the district’s tax base, explaining special education costs, and how the district’s recent decline in student enrollment impacts its funding.
The district intends to spread the referendum funding across three areas, including student educational support, facilities maintenance, and instruction. Part of the instruction and student educational support areas include the recruitment and retention of staff and services.
However, some questions, especially in regard to teacher salaries, remained.Salaries and benefits
According to Kopp, the district has a salary range for teachers and that, when teachers are hired, they’re placed within that range based on their level of education and experience.
As far as benefits, Kopp indicated at the Jan. 30 public information session the district paid 90% of employees health insurance premium regardless of whether or not the faculty member had elected to take a single or family plan, with the family plan having a $4,000 deductible and the single plan a $2,000 deductible.
In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, salaries and benefits accounted for 64.4% of the district’s operating budget, with 43.1% representing salaries and 21.3% representing benefits.
Those figures saw a slight increase in the following 2019-2020 budget, with 43.4% for salaries and 21.4% for fringe benefits.
According to Way and Kopp’s presentation, one potential allocation of the funds would see just over $1 million put toward new staff hires.
“The referendum will increase this allocation with more toward new hires in the first year and then shift to more for existing staff, thereafter,” Kopp wrote in an email to The Times
on Feb. 12.Pay to performance
One concern voiced at the Feb. 4 public information session indicated an increase in some positions’ salaries in recent years, and stated there was “no relationship of high pay to teacher performance or student performance.”
In Kopp’s email, he indicated teachers had “historically received CPI increases their base salary.”
Furthermore, the district implemented a pay for performance model in the 2012-2013 school year.
“Our school operates with a pay for performance model,” he wrote. “The LUHS Board of education recognizes competition for talent in the job market. Our staff is the core asset of our district and pivotal to student achievement, playing a significant role in the execution of our mission.”
He added the board strived to provide a market-based compensation package that was “designed to attract, motivate, and retain talented employees who drive the district’s success.”
In the salary information made available to The Times
including salary and benefit information for the district’s administration and instructional staff, the combined total of instructional and administrative staff equaled approximately $6,132,099 with $884,413 going toward six administrative staff’s salary and benefits.Kayla Houp may be reached via email at [email protected].