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Back-to-School Webinar for Parents with State Superintendent Koch and the Illinois PTA -
A Back-to-School Webinar for Parents with State Superintendent Koch and the Illinois PTA to be held on Tuesday, Sept. 9 from 7pm - 8pm.

State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch invites parents to join him for this one-hour Back-to-School webinar. The session, held in conjunction with the Illinois PTA, and will cover the following topics:

Putting in place the new Illinois Learning Standards – A discussion of how and why the standards drive new instructional approaches and lesson plans.
PARCC 2015 – Third-through-eighth-graders, as well as high school students, will take online state assessments for the first time this school year. Dr. Koch will discuss these new tests and the information they will generate about children’s progress toward college and career readiness.
Parental Engagement – A discussion of state initiatives to promote the vital partnership between parents and the school community to achieve student success.

WATCH D.O.G.S. and WATCH M.O.M.S. Program Pizza Night! -
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1 Cent Makes Sense for Schools - I believe that the Mt. Olive School District is one of the center pieces of our community. I am very proud of our community and how we support our school system. The information that I will be sharing with you is very important to keep our school district strong.

On November 4, 2014, the voters of Macoupin County will be asked approve a proposal to provide funding to all County school districts through a 1-cent sales increase. The revenue from this sales tax can only be used to maintain and improve school facilities or to make payments on existing bond debt.

The County School Facilities Sales Tax represents the first shift away from relying on property taxes for local school district funding in Illinois. The law went into effect in 2007 (based on a similar law in Iowa) allowing voters to approve a sales tax to fund school facility needs.

The question on the ballot will appear as follows:

“Shall a retailer’s occupation tax and service occupation tax (commonly referred to as a “Sales Tax” be imposed in the Macoupin County at a rate of 1% to be used exclusively for school facility purposes?”

The penny increase (or 1%) in the county sales tax will annually generate approximately $138,000 dollars for the Mt. Olive Community Unit School District. What follows is how this revenue can be used, and how it cannot be used.

First, the sales tax revenues can be used for:
• New or remodeled school facilities
• Additions and renovations
• Land acquisitions
• Safety and security improvements
• Energy efficiency
• Paying of building bonds
• Architectural planning and engineering

Second, the sales tax revenues cannot be used for operating costs such as:
• Salaries and benefits
• Instructional costs
• Textbooks and computers
• Moveable equipment
• Transportation / Buses

Unlike many types of sales tax, this specific tax does not tax items that many people think to be essential to families, and especially, senior citizens.

The increased sales tax does not apply to:
• Unprepared food (groceries)
• Medicine including prescriptions drugs and over the counter drugs
• Cars, trucks, ATV’s boats, and RV or mobile homes
• Farm equipment, parts and farm inputs
• Services are also not taxed
• If it is not currently taxed, it will not be taxed

Mt. Olive Community Unit School District has always valued and maintained our schools. With this increased revenue source, we believe that we can make the learning environment in each school better to help with the quality of education that we provide to our students. The learning environment includes everything from controlling the temperatures in each of the classrooms (boilers and air conditioning units), the electrical wiring and power needed to support teacher instruction, increase the energy efficiently in our buildings (windows and lighting), as well as the safety and security of everyone in each of our schools (security cameras and monitoring software).

That is important because the enacted 2014-2015 State Budget does not look good for our district. Since the 2010-2011 school-year, the State has been prorating payments for several line items. Proration occurs when payments to schools are reduced because there is not enough money in the State’s budget to pay what is required according to State statute. With proration set at 89% for General State Aid (our largest source of State revenue), we are facing a projected loss of funds of $222,472 for next school-year. That brings the total loss since the 2010-2011 school-year to over $799,000. These are funds that will never be recouped from the State. Below is a table showing how the Mt. Olive Community Unit School District has been negatively impacted by proration of General State Aid funding:

General State Aid (GSA)
2013-2014 **Estimate**
Proration % 99.99% 95.04% 89.17% 88.72% 89.00%
Loss of Entitlement $ 234 $ 112,076 $ 232,451 $ 232,240 $ 222,472

Over the next few months I will be sharing information with as many community members as I can regarding this issue. I will be happy to come to club and organizational meetings to speak regarding this issue. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Patrick Murphy

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