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Alma residents to vote on millage increase

Residents in Alma School District will be given a chance to vote on improved security at Alma schools come September.

During the Alma School Board meeting Tuesday night, members approved a measure that would give residents a chance to vote on a 1.2 mill increase in property tax during school elections in September.

If passed, the increase would yield an estimated $196,160 annually to go toward improved security at the schools and the salaries for three new school resource officers.

Superintendent David Woolly, who brought the proposal, said that though he doesn’t think the school district “couldn’t live without it,” he did recommend the board members pass the measure at the meeting Tuesday.

“If we don’t increase the millage rate, if we don’t ask the voters to do that, we will still move forward on implementing all these things - it just won’t be nearly as rapidly,” Woolly said Tuesday night.

Tuesday’s meeting was the last time board members could pass the measure in time for the September elections without a special meeting, Woolly said.

“We’re giving our voting public the opportunity to consider this…to make this decision,” Woolly said.

After little debate, board members passed the measure unanimously. Nancy Hawking, who in previous meetings expressed doubts about the tax increase, was not present.

According to the proposal outline, $135,000 would go toward salaries for the three resource officers and the other $60,960 would go toward the debt payment of a $1,300,000 bond.

The bond would be used to pay for the installation of cameras, enclosing open space classrooms, and entrance and office changes at all four schools, according to the outline.

Detailed information on the proposal and plans for security measures at the schools is currently being organized by school officials, Woolly said. It will be presented in the school’s newsletter, which is mailed to every district resident in August, he said.

Information in the newsletter will include the reason behind the proposal, the process of how school officials decided on the specifics of the proposal, summary and full description of the security measures that will be taken and opinions from school board members, Woolly said.

Also at the Tuesday meeting, board members approved a base salary increase of $600 for the 2013-14 school year. The increase is in addition to the step increase most teachers and employees already receive at the beginning of each school year.

School administration had hoped to give more, Woolly said, but for concern about enrollment. Employees did not receive a raise in the 2012-13 school year.

A price increase of 10 cents on school lunches also was approved. The increase was necessary to meet the standard set by the federal school lunch program, Woolly said.

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