Mount Pleasant officials react to levy failure

Maintenance and operations levy will be put on another 2014 ballot

Despite a recent levy failure, Mount Pleasant School District officials are confident.

“Voter turnout was very low and we were pretty much the only thing on the ballot,” said Peter Tarzian, superintendent. “So, the no voters voted no, and the yes votes probably still have their ballot on the fridge.”

Voters were asked to approve a two-year, $310,000 levy. It failed by earning 43.48 percent support.

The School Board will re-run the levy, most likely at either the August primary or November general election.

“The assumption is that the levy will pass the second time around,” Tarzian said. “We probably just didn’t get the message out to voters, because we definitely have a lot of parent support and feel as if we are doing the right thing (at the school).”

Board president Karl Kanthak noted that in the recent special election, less than half of the voters participated, and the levy was only seven votes shy of passing.

“We are confident that in a future election the levy will be successful, as was our previous levy,” he said.

He and Tarzian said the levy is needed for several reasons, which include possible losses in Federal Forest funds, state levy equalization reductions and to meet requirements associated with the newly adopted Common Core curriculum.

Mount Pleasant’s last levy expired in 2013, so residents paid no school taxes in 2014. Instead, the district has relied on its reserve fund to fill the gap. The general fund budget for the 2013-14 school year is approximately $600,000.

“We have enough revenues to operate this year, but next year, we would be digging into the contingency fund,” Tarzian said. “We can’t operate at the level we are at without a levy.”

Tarzian said Mount Pleasant is hoping to expand to the seventh-grade next year. Currently, it is a kindergarten through sixth-grade school.

“We have the population to do it,” he said. “We have increased enrollment from 49 to 71 students. We may expand to eighth-grade in the 2016-17 school year.”