The St. Helena School Board will ask parish voters Nov. 6 to consider a scaled-back version of prior tax proposals in support of parish schools.
The School Board is seeking a 10-year, 16.4-mill property tax for school employee pay raises and an $8 million bond issue, backed by a 40-year, 9.4-mill property tax for renovations at the elementary and high schools.
Both taxes are needed to move the district forward, Superintendent Kelli Joseph has said.
The schools are in deplorable condition, and teachers frequently leave the district for higher-paying jobs elsewhere, she said.
School officials have cut the district’s annual deficit by more than $1 million and cobbled together grants and other funding sources wherever possible, but the system is in need of additional revenues, she said.
The first proposed millage would be used to increase certified employee pay by $6,000 per year and non-certified employee pay by $3,500 per year, Joseph said.
The bond issue supported by the second millage would allow for renovations to the high school gym and auditorium, elementary school classrooms, cafeteria and gym; new parking, a new driveway and an eight-classroom addition for the elementary school; and a 1,500-seat football stadium, lighting, track and field house at the high school, she said.
At a combined 25.8 mills, the pair of tax propositions amount to roughly half of what the School Board initially considered asking voters to approve this fall.
In August, board members considered six tax package proposals offering a range of options for the district.
The most expensive proposal, which board members referred to as “the whole kit and caboodle,” totaled 49.2 mills for employee pay raises, renovations to existing school facilities, an ongoing operations and maintenance millage and the construction of two new schools in the north and south ends of the parish.
The board chose instead to seek voter approval for the least expensive tax package, with officials saying they wanted to focus on a proposal they believed the community could support.
The 25.8-mill combo also represents a scaled-back version of earlier tax proposals rejected by voters.
In May 2010, the School Board asked voters to approve a 20-year, 55-mill property tax to raise $2.1 million annually for teacher and employee salaries. The measure failed by 598 votes, with 1,613 against and 1,015 in favor.
In July 2008, voters rejected a 25-year, 37-mill property tax backing a $20.4 million bond issue to build a school complex for prekindergarten through 12th grade, with 1,536 against and 1,152 in favor.
And in October 2007, voters defeated a 25-year, 40-mill proposition for the same project, 2,290 against to 2,106 in favor.