Crocker school board discusses how to help struggling Swedeborg school
By: Darrell Todd Maurina
CROCKER, Mo. (April 30, 2010) — Watching even more serious budget problems in a neighboring school district than their own, Crocker R-II School Board members discussed at their Thursday night meeting what, if anything, they should do to help the Swedeborg R-III School District.
Crocker is one of two districts where the majority of students from the Swedeborg school, which offers education only through the eighth grade, choose go for high school. Most Swedeborg students currently attend Richland High School but a few have gone to Waynesville High School; school districts that don’t run a high school have to pay tuition to send their high school students to a different district.
Swedeborg voters rejected a tax proposal just a few weeks ago that would have substantially increased the revenues of the district and also qualified the district for thousands of dollars in additional state aid. Swedeborg, like nearly all other Pulaski County districts, taxes its residents at a rate of only $2.75 per $100 of assessed valuation, which is far lower than the $3.43 rate which Missouri state officials consider to be the appropriate minimum tax levy. Districts which charge at least the $3.43 minimum receive significantly more state aid.
Crocker currently has the county’s highest tax levy, due to a vote approved years ago to build the current high school building.
Superintendent Jim Bogle told Crocker board members that he had drafted a letter to Swedeborg but decided not to send it after consulting with board members.
“After talking with some of you, I’m not sure we need to mail the letter, the reason being that things have changed in Swedeborg.” Bogle said. “I’m not an expert on Swedeborg by any means, the state may be involved in Swedeborg, it may not, I don’t know that. But I do know this: I’ve had one patron call me about wanting to annex some of their property into Crocker school, so (school secretary Stephanie Knudsen) and I called to find out what the rules were on that.”
Bogle presented copies of state laws on the issue to Crocker board members, noting that people who want to annex into a different district have to have 10 percent of the voters in the last election sign a petition for annexation, followed by a vote of the people, and annexation has to be a neighboring district.
One person is especially interested in annexation, Bogle said, but that decision hasn’t yet been made.
“He is in the process of deciding if he wants to pursue that a little bit further, and some other people have told me they would be interested with it,” Bogle said. “I don’t think it is right for me to be go out and getting signatures and all that, but we can help them with boundaries and stuff like that.”
Crocker R-II School Board President Kris York said he hopes Crocker can find a way to help Swedeborg.
“We’ve always kept our tuition lower than any of the other districts to try to help Swedeborg; our tuition is cheaper for that reason,” York said.
Bogle said he’s willing to help Swedeborg with bus transportation as well.
“We’ve already offered our transportation help to Swedeborg. If they’re going to try to stay around another year, and we get their kids, we’ll be glad. We’re not going to go to the other side of Swedeborg, but we do have some of the same routes and we can go a little bit out of our way to help them out,” Bogle said. “I don’t know what’s going on with Swedeborg, I just know that there’s some people working on that so you may hear about that.”
Crocker Elementary School Principal Doug Jacobson, whose wife is a former Swedeborg teacher, said it appears Swedeborg won’t be closing immediately.
“The latest I heard, Mr. Bogle, is they think they can make it one more year,” Jacobsen said.
“That’s kind of what I heard too, but they’re still up in the air whether that’s true or not,” Bogle said.