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PES finances: Still a concern

District considers fast-pitch softball club

PRINCETON — Diminishing revenue continues to be a concern for the Princeton Elementary School District.

At Monday’s meeting of the Princeton Elementary School Board, Superintendent Tim Smith said the state is current with its categorical payments, though the final payment of the fiscal year isn’t due until the end of June. But even though the state is current with its payments, the level of funding from the state is quite a bit less than in recent years, through cuts to Hold Harmless, reading improvement funding and the school safety block grant. In those three line items alone, PES funding from the state is diminished by $600,000, Smith said.

In a possible revenue-maker, Smith reported on a recent meeting he attended for Bureau County school districts on the topic of asking voters to approve a 1 cent sales tax increase. Presenting the information at the May 7 meeting were representatives of the Stifel Nicolaus financial firm. The Bureau Valley School District had initiated the conversation on the possible sales tax increase.

As explained at the May 7 meeting, the new sales tax money could only be used for building or maintenance purposes, Smith said. There are a lot of exemptions to items impacted by the proposed sales tax, like vehicles, unprepared foods and over-the-counter drugs and vitamins. The proposed sales tax increase would have to be approved county-wide. If such an increase was approved, Princeton Elementary School District could generate an estimated $430,000 in new revenue each year, Smith said.

PES Board President Judd Lusher said it would be nice to have the extra money, but it would be hard to get the tax increase passed county-wide, especially on the eastern side of the county which has building projects already. It would take a lot of work from a lot of people to promote the sales tax increase, he said.

On Tuesday, Smith said he would have to do some more study and research into proposal before he could make a determination on where he stands on it. The money sounds good, but it is too soon to see if this would be something to pursue, he said.

in other business at Monday’s meeting, Smith presented a proposal from area coaches Kevin Bauer and Bob James about the possibility of partnering with PES to begin a sustainable, self-funded softball club at Logan Junior High.

The new program would provide participants the opportunity to learn the proper fundamentals of fast pitch softball and prepare them to compete at the high school level. The program would be open to seventh- and eighth-graders at Logan Junior High and Malden Grade School, with the possibility of opening up the program to sixth-graders if additional numbers are needed. If the new program went forward, the organizers would establish a fundraising committee to handle expenses.

Smith said he told the coaches PES could not afford to contribute financially to the program, though it would be a good opportunity to offer something free to the kids and to partner with the community. Princeton High School is excited about the program because it would be a program that would feed into the high school program, Smith said.

The PES Board took no action on the proposal, and Smith said he would talk with his administrators and coaches to see what they think.

In other news at Monday’s meeting, Smith announced PES received a $34,000 school safety grant, which was written for the district by Barb Valle and Wayne Barr. Though $34,000 may not go far, it is a start and much appreciated, Smith said.

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