BURLINGTON JUNCTION, Mo. — Voters in the West Nodaway R-I school district voted down a tax levy increase that school officials said was necessary for educational standards and teachers to keep pace.
But after two open houses to explain the consequences of failing to raise the tax levy by $1 per $100 assessed valuation, which would have brought West Nodaway into the middle of the pack of Nodaway County school levies, voters decided not to take that step. Instead, West Nodaway’s tax levy will remain the lowest in the county. The district also receives significantly less in wind farm subsidies than others in Nodaway County.
The rejection of the levy will leave administrators in a difficult position going forward, including on teacher pay. During a school board meeting last month, Superintendent Mitch Barnes said the district would put off plans to address an increase to base teacher pay until after the fate of the tax levy was determined. For the current year, West Nodaway’s base teacher pay of $32,200 ranked fifth among the districts in Nodaway County. Most other districts have already voted to raise their base pay for next year.
“The general consequences will be that West Nodaway teachers will continue to fall behind other local districts in compensation as well as money taken out of their pocket to help pay for their insurance,” Superintendent Mitch Barnes told The Forum in an email. “Additionally we will have to re-evaluate staff positions and programs to see if we can save any more money. There are some very glaring needs in the West Nodaway district and I would like to thank those who saw them and voted yes.”
The levy increase failed by a vote of 225 to 188.