How potential changes in school funding could affect your taxes

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS - Marshalltown School Board members and district administrators talked about the possibility of moving some property tax dollars away from instructional support programming at Tuesday’s board meeting. If some of those dollars were moved, income surtax money could be used to fill in the funding for instructional support. While there was discussion about the issue, no action was taken on it earlier this week.

The cost of the Marshalltown Schools Instructional Support Program is currently 100 percent funded by taxpayers through property tax dollars — that could change.

The possibility of tax changes for the Instruction Support Program, a mechanism for schools to increase their general fund budgets, came up for discussion at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

“What the Instructional Support Program allows districts to do is to increase our programming by 10 percent of our regular program costs,” said district Director of Finance Paulette Newbold. “So, for instance, our district this year has a $36 million regular program cost, so 10 percent of that would be $3.6 million … basically, what you can do with this money is use it for any general fund purpose, but you can’t supplant certain programs like dropout prevention and special ed.”

However, she said the state aid portion of Instructional Support Program funding hasn’t come in since Fiscal Year 2011. Therefore, the program funding totals only about $2 million this year and is entirely funded by district property taxes.

The impact of this year’s Instructional Support Program funding equals about $1.90 out of the total property tax rate of $17.99 per $1,000 taxable valuation.

Newbold said the instructional support funding came up at a recent school board finance committee meeting.

“In our discussions of how to fund additional programming needs without impacting the property tax rate overall, we talked a little bit about the potential to shift some of the the funding for this program out of the property tax funding into an income surtax funding,” she said. “It’s a surtax, so it’s a tax on the tax, so if you don’t owe any state income tax, the income surtax is not going to impact you at all.”

Board member Mike Miller asked Newbold if shifting some of the property tax funding to income surtax funding would increase the amount of extra program money for the district. She said it would not increase funding, just spread out the funding sources.

“I think there is good reason to buy down the instructional support levy with the surtax,” said board member Ben Fletcher. “I want to hear more about it, but I think the surtax is a good idea.”

The idea of shifting some funding from property taxes to income surtax was up for discussion only at Monday’s school board meeting, so no action was taken on the issue.

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Contact Adam Sodders at

(641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com