December 24, 2022
The Lee’s Summit R-7 Board of Education approved placement of a debt service levy transfer on the April 4, 2023 ballot by a 7-0 vote at the Dec. 15 regular monthly meeting.
Ballot language proposes the increase of the district’s operating tax levy by 20 cents (per $100 of assessed valuation) and a decrease to the debt service tax levy by 20 cents to ensure no net impact to the district’s overall tax rate.
Reallocating additional revenue to the operating fund will allow the district to increase staff compensation as part of the district’s goal of recruiting and retaining quality staff.
The Board’s decision follows the review of salary data from surrounding school districts, in addition to input from stakeholder groups including the Citizens’ Advisory Committee, Business Roundtable, Team Lee’s Summit and district staff.
“The Board of Education and administration believes bringing a ballot question to the voters to transfer 20 cents of debt service levy to the operating levy is in the best interest of the district,” said Superintendent David Buck.
The levy transfer is designed as a no tax rate increase approach to ensure the school district can offer competitive staff compensation during a time of high inflation and stagnant state funding for K-12 education. In recent years, neighboring districts have taken voter-approved actions such as levy transfers and increases to invest in salary schedules, and LSR7 has fallen behind in starting pay for teachers and other positions.
Salary recommendations in the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District are made each year by a representative group of employees before being presented to the Board of Education for consideration each spring. This collaborative process will determine the allocation of additional revenue for salaries should voters approve a levy transfer in April.
The district’s current overall property tax rate of $5.31 per $100 of assessed valuation includes the operating tax levy and the debt service tax levy. The current operating tax levy ($4.24) funds operational expenses, such as teacher and staff salaries, supplies and equipment. Current debt service tax levy ($1.07) funds are used to pay interest and principal payments for general obligation bonds issued for voter-approved bond projects.
Shifting $.20 from the debt service levy to the operating levy is a budget reallocation that redirects approximately $5.4 million to the general operating fund on an annual basis.
While a levy transfer impacts the district’s future bonding capacity — how much the district can borrow in the future for bond projects — assessed valuation and growth projections indicate that LSR7 is in a strong position to cover its anticipated facility needs with a lower debt service tax levy. Voter approval of a levy transfer does not change the terms or rates associated with previously issued debt. Because of responsible long-range debt planning, the district has adequate funds to cover its existing debt.
The April 2023 levy transfer will require a simple majority from voters for approval. The deadline to register to vote for the April election is March 8, 2023.
Information about the levy transfer is available on the district’s webpage at lsr7.org. Throughout the next couple of months, school district officials will be providing more comprehensive information about this topic as well as offering presentations to interested organizations. For more information, you may also contact the district’s Public Relations Department at (816) 986-1112 or submit questions at the district’s contact us webpage at contact.lsr7.org.
“Increasing staff salaries through a levy transfer is a way to ensure LSR7 continues to be a destination district without asking voters for additional tax contributions,” said Board of Education President Kathy Campbell. “We know our community supports our schools and our staff — we see it every day in so many ways across our district — and we are looking forward to sharing more information about this ballot item with our community.”