Dr. Ewell

Voter Approved Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (VPPEL)
The Benton Community Board of Directors submitted a ballot for the VPPEL for September 13, 2022, Special Election. Benton Community has participated in the Board Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) and for many years and the Voter Approved Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (VPPEL) most recently in 2010.  If passed on Sept. 13, the VPPEL would generate approximately $1,009,612 per year to be used for safety and security at all of our school buildings, classroom and cafeteria expansion at Atkins Elementary due to overcrowding, improving dated heating and cooling systems in our buildings, and purchasing school buses.  

Facilities Assessment
During the 2020-2021 school year, the Board secured an architectural company to conduct an extensive assessment of our school facilities.  Together with a group of 35 community member, staff, and student representatives, they engaged in a year-long study to identifying the needs of our facilities and develop a general master plan.  Since this time, the school Board has been unpacking the master plan, information, data, and details.  

Our buildings and classrooms are well kept but aging.  The High School building was built in 1981, Atkins Elementary in 1956, Keystone Elementary in 1959, and Norway Intermediate in 1955.  Since then, additions have been constructed at the High School, Atkins, Keystone, and Norway.  Some parts of the heating and cooling systems are no longer available for repairs. The study concluded that our heating and cooling systems have exceeded their life expectancy.   

Safety and Security
School buildings constructed in the 1950’s – 1980’s were not designed for safety and security as they are today.  One of the Board’s future interests includes working with an architectural company to help us determine how our facilities can be more safe and secure such as a renovating the school offices, front secure entrances, security cameras systems, door locks, and improved technologies. 

21st Century Collaborative Learning Spaces
As generations have passed through our classrooms, the traditional teaching approaches involved traditional-looking classrooms, furniture, and materials that worked well at the time.  However, the education system from the past, is no longer meeting the expectations of today or for the future.  Students must now engage in a multitude of experiences such as collaborative teams, extensive problem solving, and involvement with various community partners to build knowledge, skill and abilities for college and career readiness.  Many of our classrooms are in need of remodeling to provide more flexible learning opportunities, hands on work and research with technological advances, and communication experiences for career preparation.  The VPPEL levy will help us begin remodeling some of our classrooms. 

 School Buses
Our 22 route buses travel 460,947 miles each year transporting an average of 1,514 students each day to and from school.  Needless to say, it is crucial that we maintain a highly functional transportation department!  The VPPEL revenue will be used to purchase school buses so our fleet is up to date and operational.  

The VPPEL will be critical for funding a few of the needed improvements but it will not be enough to do everything to improve and upgrade all facilities and classrooms.  Depending on the future master Facilities Plan and funding, the VPPEL together with other future revenue sources could fund more projects needed such as remodeling science classrooms and locker rooms at the MS/HS.

The VPPEL revenue is more about equipping our students and staff with the resources and environments conducive to learning than it is about buildings or brick and mortar.  While we do need highly functional and innovative buildings and facilities, it is more important to focus on investing in our future which in turn is about investing in our children.  We simply cannot make progress as a school district without addressing the needs of our staff and students in regard to the learning environments where they spend a good portion of their years as a child/teen.

The investment in our children will be a commitment for all of us.  The commitment comes in the form of a property tax levy.  For example, if you own a home and the taxable valuation on your home is $100,000, the investment is $66.04 annually or $5.50/month.  If your home’s taxable valuation is $200,000, the investment in our children will be $138.57/year or $11.55/month. 

Agriculture land example:  80 acres of assessed taxable valuation of farm land is $154.82 per year.  240 acres of farm land is $464.47/year. 

It’s important to note that assessed value is NOT market value.  Assessed value is determined by the County Assessor while market value is determine by the open real estate marketplace.  Please see the chart below as a reference. 

Polling locations will be open from 7:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. on Sept. 13, 2022, at the following locations. Registered voters in our school district communities can go to any one of the following locations to vote.  
            Van Horne Community Center
             Newhall City Hall
             St. Michael’s Parish Center
             Atkins City Hall/Library
             Keystone City Hall
             Blairstown City Hall/Community Center

Information about voting or absentee ballots – please contact the Benton Co. Auditor’s Office.

Questions?  Please call Dr. Pamela Ewell, Superintendent, at 319-227-8701 Ext. 1503 or Dr. James Bieschke, School Business Mgr, 319-228-8701 Ext. 1502.