Attracting and retaining high-quality staff members was one of the primary goals of the school board for this budget, Superintendent Dr. Tim Hadfield said.

For the first time since the 2003-04 school year, the Camdenton R-III Board of Education has approved a 10-cent increase to its operating levy, bumping the total tax rate to $2.97 per $100 of assessed valuation.

The operating fund levy for the 2017-18 year is $1.43 while there are no changes to the teachers fund, debt service fund or capital projects fund. The total tax rate levied for operations will be $2.66 and 31 cents for the debt service levy. The total levy is distributed across the four funds with an estimated breakdown of expenditures as follows:

2017-18 Operating Fund — $18,174,309 up a total of $538,337 from $17,635,972 in 2016-2017

2017-18 Teachers — $28,092,397 up a total of $109,778 from $28,092,397 in 2016-2017

2017-18 Debt Service — $3,501,910 down a total of $476,325 from $3,978,235 in 2016-2017

2017-18 Capital Projects — $3,120,962 up a total of $62,425 from $3,058,537 in 2016-2017

2017-18 Total — $52,999,356 up a total of $234,215 from $52,765,141 in 2016-2017.

Under the Missouri State Constitution, local school boards can levy up to $2.75 per $100 of assessed valuation for operations and the Camdenton School Board has chosen to raise its total from $2.56 to $2.66 with a remaining nine cents short of the maximum allowed.

Superintendent Dr. Tim Hadfield explained the board’s reasoning to raise the levy for the first time in over a decade.

“Over the course of the last eight years assessed valuation has been relatively flat. The board studied what was happening over the course of the time and got into some discussions looking at our tax rate, reflecting back on board goals to provide a quality education for students,” Hadfield said. “Over the course of planning for this over three years, we’ve trimmed back on preventative maintenance projects, cut positions to the district central office and teacher positions. We’ve increased class sizes in order to do that.”

Hadfield said it came to the point where staff and the board started to worry about the flat tax revenues having an adverse impact on student education and services. According to a budget message drafted by Hadfield, the 2017-18 budget assumes only a slight increase on assessed valuation.

“It also estimates a very low, but better than recent years, return on investments. It also budgets for relatively level funding regarding state funding,” Hadfield wrote. “The budget reflects there was no raise to base salaries, but certified staff members would realize an average raise of at least 2.0-percent due to movement along and down the salary schedule.”

Attracting and retaining high-quality staff members was one of the primary goals of the school board for this budget, Hadfield said.

“We want our district to be in the top 10 percent in the state when it comes to compensation, to retain and attract the best staff that’s needed for our children,” he said. “Obviously with a flat revenue stream from our local tax base the board was needing to look at how we can continue to try and achieve that goal while at the same time they took a hard look at how we’re staffed and our resources. We've already made cuts to stave off any increase, but it came to a point when assessed valuation came in they did not increase at a great rate, it was again very flat, so the decision was made to bring that levy up.”

Several large capital improvement projects have been placed in this year’s budget, including the purchase of five new school buses, basic maintenance work such as painting, equipment replacement and electrical upgrades, additional safety upgrades for the main campus and a new intercom system at Hawthorne.

The replacement of the turf at Bob Shore Stadium and the installation of the new school board were also budgeted, along with the completion of the new HVAC system at Oak Ridge. A significant increase in technology hardware, safety and stadium upgrades is also reflected in this budget for a total of $900,000.