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BOX ELDER SCHOOL BOARD SHIFTS LEVIES TO CUT CLASS SIZES AND NOT BOOST TAXES

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The Box Elder school board has voted to put an additional $350,000 into the maintenance and operation budget to reduce class sizes.

The money will be spent without any tax increase.At the recommendation of Superintendent Darrell White, the board increased the mill levy of the maintenance and operation budget by 1 1/2 mills while lowering the mill levy for the capital outlay budget by 11/2 mills.

Legislation passed during the last general session of the state Legislature allows local school boards to levy a tax rate above the cost of the basic program. That increase can be up to two mills, and the additional revenue must be used for class size reduction unless a district can show there is no need for such a reduction.

White said there is a need to reduce class sizes in Box Elder school district.

The maintenance and operation fund in the district pays for the day-to-day operation of the school district, he said. The size of the maintenance and operation fund determines class size and teachers' salaries. This is the fund that has a direct impact on students.

The capital outlay budget is used for the purchase of land, building construction and some supplies and equipment.

The district is always short in the maintenance and operation budget because that budget is set and controlled by the state. Capital outlay money is mostly local money from property taxes.

Assessed valuation of property throughout the county along with the tax rate and the percentage of taxes collected in a year determine the amount of money received from property taxes, White said.

White said that the district is covered for next year if assessed valuation does not continue to increase by approximately 5 percent. The district has built up a surplus in the capital outlay budget, which would make up the 11/2 mill loss if there is no growth.

He concluded that the district is in a very positive position. If the worst happens and there is no growth when planning the budget for the following year, the board might have to consider raising taxes. But White said, "I don't think you're going to need to do that."