Miller wins school board election; PPEL passes
Light voter turnout shows 348 people cast ballots in the Fairfield Community School District special election Tuesday, electing Phil Miller to one vacancy on the school board and approving a 10-year extension to the district’s Physical Plant and Equipment Levy.
Miller, appointed to the school board vacancy in November, received a total of 259 votes. Candidate Steve Pumphrey received 89 votes.
The PPEL, which would expire in 2015, was approved by 254 to 93 votes through 2025.
“We are very pleased that the community chose to continue this levy,” said Superintendent Art Sathoff. “The 67-cents per $1,000 valuation is significantly less than the statutory maximum, but this funding stream is very important to the school as we rely on it for bus and technology purchases and can also use these resources for building and grounds.”
The school district has had this levy for 50 years.
“When it was first passed in 1964, it was called something different, but the purpose and use was the same as what we now call PPEL,” said Kim Sheets, district business manager.
“Our community has had a long history in supporting this levy and we are grateful for the continuation,” said Fred McElwee, district auxiliary services director. “It allows for technology, school transportation and facility expenditure planning and demonstrates our community’s commitment to our schools.”
Jefferson County elections clerk Abbie DeKleine said the total number of active voters in the Fairfield school district is 9,412. That means 3.7 percent of registered voters participated in this election.
Pumphrey was upbeat today and extended congratulations to Miller for winning the school board seat.
“Well, I see Dr. Miller beat me by a landslide,” said Pumphrey. “I’m happy I got the chance to run for school board.
“Dr. Miller is a good choice the people made, and I wish him the best,” he said. “I will continue to support the schools and I may run again when there’s another vacancy.”
Miller said he has enjoyed his four months on the school board. This election places him on the school board until September 2015, when the four-year term of Amy Miller would have expired. She resigned in November for her family to relocate.
“I’m so happy to get to stay on the board,” he said. “I’m happy the voters let me stay. I am glad to serve on a board headed by Jennifer Anderson.
“She’s dong an excellent job as board president. She knows when to ask questions and is firm in her decisions. She has a lot of integrity,” said Miller.
School board members attend a lot of meetings and put time in because they realize the importance of serving on the board, said Miller.
“It directly affects our community’s children’s education,” he said. “I want our school district to provide the best.”
Miller said the big lessons he’s learned in the few months on the board are about funding.
“What controls the amount of money the district has is the number of students enrolled,” he said. “And the level of funding is decided at the state level. The district receives spending authorization at a set amount of money per pupil, multiplied by how many students are counted in our annual certified enrollment.
“So, if a district’s enrollment is decreasing, it’s very challenging,” said Miller. “But the board is determined to provide a good education and have good buildings for our students.”
Miller also sees the importance of the seven-member school board working together to find a new superintendent for the district.
“Hiring a superintendent is the biggest responsibility the board has,” he said. “Everyone has to attend meetings.
“Another big project is a decision about amending the funding or amending the design of the high school renovation project,” said Miller.
The bids for the project proposed to begin this spring came in $2 million over budget.
The school board, administrators, StruXture Architects and construction manager Carl A. Nelson are meeting today at the Administrative/Curriculum/Technology Center at 6:30 p.m. for a board work session to discuss options for the high school project. A special meeting will follow the work session, estimated to begin at 7:30 p.m. today for the board to vote on an option. Both meetings are open to the public.