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WBCSD: Teachers did not receive raises this year

by CAROLINE LOBSINGER
Staff Writer | February 24, 2021 1:00 AM

With the upcoming West Bonner County School District levy coming up on March 9, school district officials said there is a lot of misinformation being spread.

The levy, which maintains the current $1.47 mill rate per $1,000 of assessed property value, is responsible for 25% of the district’s budget.

Although the state provides funding for schools, it’s not enough to maintain all of the district’s necessary operations, district officials said. The state generally provides less than $400,000 for the district’s transportation, but it costs the district $700,000 to cover its 780 square miles.

To help sort out the facts from the myths, WBCSD Board Business Manager Jennifer Anselmo recently provided the facts for common misperceptions circling around the community about the levy.

Myth: Teachers received 9% raise this year.

Fact: Teachers received a 0% base increase raise this year. In fact, no employees received a base raise.

Health insurance increased by 8%, which cost the district an additional $536 per year per insured employee. This would not be considered as raise, as it has no cash basis. If someone opts out of our coverage (which happens a lot) they are not paid anything for opting out. Our average teacher salary of $51,258 (less than the state average) includes all additional pay and stipends. 

Myth: The district still has over $500,000 of previous levies unspent.

Fact: The revenue from levies is delayed from the time a levy is approved by the voter. We do not start receiving dollars until December of the next year.

What that means for a small district like us, where cash flow is an issue, is that we have to wait to receive funds to spend them. Big facility projects or monies set aside for curriculum have to accrue over a few years of tax revenues.

Every dollar that is not spoken for has been taken into account to lower specific needs for this levy. For instance, we generally request $55,000 for a school resource officer, but have been able to lower our request for the next two years to $38,000. We typically request over $370,000 for student activities and have lowered that need to under $340,000 for the next two years.