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Saratoga schools start endowment fund

District also OKs tax levy for 2013

Published: Friday, Dec. 20, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

MORRIS – Saratoga School District will soon have a website so donations can be made online to the school’s endowment fund.

The Saratoga School Board of Education this week approved a $350 payment for design of the Saratoga Endowment Fund website, Superintendent Kathy Perry said Thursday.

The endowment was created in June 2012 to add another revenue source for the district, she said. To start the fund, the board approved transferring $100 to it. A few weeks ago it received a donation of more than $5,000 from the family of Honor Trotter, a recently deceased Saratoga teacher, in her memory.

“It’s an opportunity to donate tax-free,” Perry said.

Once the endowment is built up, funds could be used for mini-grants for teacher projects, speaker fees, to save a position from budget cuts, or for fine arts and other school needs, said Kim Struck, a music teacher who also sits on the fundraising committee.

“The hope is to build pride and understanding with the school,” she said.

“We are excited and glad to get the support of the school board and hope parents, teachers, alumni and community members get on board,” Struck said.

The endowment was created through the Community Foundation of Grundy County, Perry said.

The district is now working to market the endowment and raise funds. The hope is to get donations through fundraisers, annual charitable donations and memorial donations.

The fundraising committee also is working toward a large fundraiser to be held annually, Perry said.

The website is expected to be in place by the end of January. Once that is completed, work on a brochure will begin.

Once the website is ready, a link to it will be available on the district site, www.sd60c.org.

In other business, the school board Monday also approved the 2013 tax levy, Perry said.

This year’s levy asks for $200,000 less in tax revenue because of the continued drop in equalized assessed values locally.

Because of this, the district’s tax rate is expected to drop slightly, Perry said. Last year’s rate was $2.9710 per $100 of owned property, and she anticipates it to drop to about $2.80.

“In the last four years, property tax revenue has dropped half a million,” she said.

The Education Fund continues to operate at a deficit, which occurred for the first time under Perry’s leadership last year. But the school has one of the lowest operating expenses per pupil in the state.

To accommodate the dropping revenue, the school district made $260,000 in reductions last year.

On top of this, Saratoga has received $60,000 less in state aid this year and Perry expects it to receive $150,000 less next year.

“It is not a spending problem,” she said. “All the tax bodies are facing revenue problems.”

Get involved

To donate to the Saratoga Endowment Fund, call 815-942-2128 or visit www.sd60c.org.

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