Candidates Face-Off In School Board Debate
by Eduardo Zamarripa, CRI Weekly News
Oskaloosa, Iowa – Eight School Board candidates squared-off in a debate on Monday night at the Iowa State University Extension Office. More than 25 people attended the event that lasted an hour and 40 minutes and was moderated by William Penn University’s John Ottosson.
Shelly Herr (District Two, unopposed candidate), Tom Richardson (District Five, unopposed candidate), Shawn Moyer (District Six, unopposed candidate), Carl Drost (At-Large candidate), Kraig Van Hulzen (At-Large candidate), Lin Yoder (At-large candidate, incumbent), Susan Boxler (District Three candidate, incumbent), and Neal Hadden (District Three candidate) answered questions on the Good Conduct Code, school fees, their role as a board member, and the issues facing the Oskaloosa School Community District among other topics.
The night began with each candidate having two minutes to present their opening statements. The candidates then answered the following questions:
- In recent weeks, the school’s good conduct policy has been debated. Should the policy be revamped? Given recent developments regarding the good conduct code, in your opinion do you feel administrators are being given too much power to reprimand students?
- Should there be a cap on student fees?
- What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing the school district and what is your solution?
- What should be the top priority for school funding?
- If elected to the school board, what do you believe your responsibility will be as a board member? How will your background help you with school-related decisions?
The candidates then answered two questions from the audience, including one from current board member Nik Rule, before giving their closing statements:
- What (do) all of you think about the (bullying) policy? Does it need to be improved?
- As a board member, what can we do in order to provide an atmosphere that allows for our very talented and bright students to even excel at a higher level?
The night concluded with Superintendent Russ Reiter answering questions from the audience regarding the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL). The PPEL will also be on the ballot when Oskaloosa residents elect their new School Board members on Sep. 10.
The School Board has the power to approve a 33 cent property tax levy regarding the PPEL, which it already did. What voters are approving is a 67 cent property tax levy in addition to those 33 cents that will keep the PPEL at $1 per $1,000 of assessed taxable value. That dollar levy makes up approximately $586,000 of the school’s budget.
The PPEL is already calculated into the current property tax levy, so approving it does not change the current tax levy, which is $15.30 per $1,000 of assessed taxable value. Approximately 60 cents lower than last year’s levy due to the 4 percent allowable growth funding that the school will receive.
If the PPEL gets turned down by the public, it will not decrease the tax levy for this fiscal year, but it would mean the tax levy for the next fiscal year decreases 67 cents. If the PPEL does not pass, the district has an opportunity to put it up for a vote again on Feb. 4, 2014, before the fiscal year ends in June 2014.
The ‘highest’ amount of PPEL that a school board can ask for is $1.34 per $1,000 of assessed taxable value. That’s in addition to the 33 cents it can approve without a vote.
Here’s the full video from the debate: