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Oak Ridge School Board discusses new tax revenue, early school start at meeting

Due to the 65-cent tax increase passed for the Oak Ridge R-6 School District earlier this month, the District will be able to raise an additional $210,000 in tax revenue each year.

During the District’s School Board meeting on June 9, Board of Education President Rob Grayhek said he recommends that the district use three percent of its revenue to build up a reserve.

Superintendent Adrian Eftink specified that three percent of the District’s tax revenue is around half of the tax levy increase, or between $100,000 and $120,000.

Grayhek said he came to the three percent conclusion after talking to Tom Pisarkiewicz, the president and CFO of the District’s financial firm, L.J. Hart & Company, at the District’s tax levy forum on May 26.

“I think three percent a year is realistic,” Grayhek said. “In five years, you’re back where you need to be.”

Based on data provided at the tax levy forum, the District will receive approximately $3,770,000 in revenue this coming school year through taxes and state funding. Funding has already lowered from the state and further cuts are expected later this year.

Next year’s budget has been estimated to be $3,660,000 and has been lowered through cutting 10 staff positions at the District and taking expenses back to the 2014-15 budget. The District had already reduced operation costs by $96,000 during the 2019-20 school year.

The District will receive federal CARES Act funding to cover COVID-19 related costs, but Eftink said it wouldn’t cover the losses the District will see in state funding cuts.

During the School Board meeting, the Board discussed either holding summer school in late July or starting regular classes on Aug. 12. Eftink advised that they probably would not do both but that the District may receive some CARES Act funding from the Cape Girardeau County to help fund one or the other.

He said that he has started to advise families to not plan vacations that can’t be rescheduled after Aug. 12, just in case. Eftink added that he would learn more about potential funding and District teacher’s thoughts on the matter by the next Board meeting.

During the meeting, new School Board members Mary Seyer, Thomas Schreiner and Whitney McFall took the oath of office. Grayhek was elected president, Ron Tracy was elected vice president and McFall was elected treasurer.

The elementary school construction project was also discussed, with the work being 95 percent completed at the time of the meeting. Eftink said a final punch list was made and that the building would be useable if summer school occurs.

The Board set its next meeting for June 29, when it will pass the budget for the upcoming school year.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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