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Love for Lyle’s students passes operating levy

For Lyle Superintendent Bryan Boysen, election night put him on cloud nine as the school district celebrated the voter-approved operating levy Tuesday.

With 50 percent voter turnout from Lyle’s registered voters, the community banded together and passed 188-142 on a much-needed operating levy for sustaining the district’s educational programming and staffing for another fiscal year. 

On this year’s ballot box Lyle asked voters to say “yes” to increase its operating levy authority to $850 per student, which expires after 10 years and is subjected to annual inflationary adjustments determined by the state. The last time Lyle asked for an increase was the late 90s and was set at $840.01 per pupil. Voters approved to renew that same amount in 2011, according to a previous story. 

Levies allow districts to generate additional general education revenue, which hasn’t kept up with the pace of inflation since 2002-03. The revenue is generated through a combination of state aid and local property tax levies, and can be used for any operating or capital expenses such as staff salaries, benefits, utilities, supplies and technology. Levies are different than bond referendums, which go toward building projects.

If Lyle hadn’t passed its levy, then the tune would have been a somber one as Boysen would have needed to prioritize the district budget, and see potential cuts to programming and staffing to keep the lights on at school.

Luckily, Lyle instead found something to celebrate.

“Lyle has shown another investment in their children,” Boysen said. “They’re shaping the future of your town and community. They’re joining an educated society and are the fabric of the small town. We’ve got to keep the place going, and passing this (levy) puts a lot of people at ease.”

Despite the levy having passed, Boysen still believes that more work was left to be done in order to continue sustaining Lyle’s quality of education.

Lyle Superintendent Bryan Boysen interacts with students as they transition between classes. Hannah Yang/hannah.yang@austindailyherald.com

Having felt the weight of responsibility of making sure that the district continues to operate and fulfill the daily needs of staff and students, educating the public on the necessity of approving an operating levy became Boysen’s priority. Having the vote come within his first years as a superintendent also mounted some additional pressure. With only 56 percent of the registered voters saying yes to the levy, any opportunity to sit down with taxpayers and explain why their vote matters was crucial for the success of the levy’s passage.

“Whenever you’re doing work on a referendum or a levy, it conjures up lots of thoughts,” Boysen said. “You educate the voters, and they came in and made an informed decision. It was a grassroots effort and you see democracy in action. The polls closed at 8 p.m. and I was at the town hall, watching the snow fly down and people still came out and vote. They sat, and waited patiently. Lyle School District once again showed that they were invested in our kids.

For his part, Boysen showed tangible items that physically represented the need for the levy. He showed voters outdated textbooks that contained information that could have negatively affected the education of students and the opportunity to perform well at testing. He wanted to show voters that their votes actually do turn into action.

“It was embarrassing to see our students use these textbooks that were so outdated and would negatively affect their test scores,” he said. “We are looking optimistically, knowing that our children are going to have a safe and optimal learning environment.”

With a levy approval, many minds have been put at ease for the next fiscal year. Boysen noted that staffing would continue to be sustained now that funding for those positions have been secured and corners don’t have to be cut when it came to maintaining programs.

“I think it helps put minds at ease for our budget during the next fiscal year, and we don’t have to worry as much,” he said. “We don’t have to cut corners. It doesn’t mean spending money. We still have to be careful in what we spend our money on and being watchful with our taxpayers’ money. We’re making sure we’re going to maintain, and this helps with retention. We can tell our job applicants that we are financially sound. Lyle supports our school and see the vision of what we’re doing. We’re doing well, we’re financially secure and help take care of our general education fund.”

With Lyle’s levy, the statement was clear: the community supports its students.

“It’s not just me, we had the support of the staff, board, community and it’s important to know that they have people and employees in Lyle that have the best interests of students at heart,” Boysen said.