Education

Harvard School District 50 extends superintendent’s contract, explores future of spending

The district also will be considering increasing the tax levy next month

The Harvard School District 50 Board voted unanimously last Wednesday to extend the contract of Superintendent Corey Tafoya.

Tafoya received a three-year extension through the 2023-24 school year. He currently is receiving a salary of $200,300 and will receive an annual salary increase of about $11,000 each of the next two years to bring his salary to $222,500 for the 2023-24 academic year, according to district documents.

“Harvard is a very special place, and I’m glad to have the support of our amazing board of education to continue the great work that is happening here,” Tafoya said in a statement.

Tafoya became the district’s superintendent in 2017 after working as an assistant superintendent in Crystal Lake-based Community High School District 155 and as principal at Woodstock High School. He got his start in education as a Spanish teacher at a high school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, according to the district’s website.

The board also is moving ahead on next year’s property tax levy, which is projected to increase over last year, but homeowners likely will not see their tax rate increase.

According to a presentation to the board, the district is looking to increase the tax levy by 4.6% to $17.8 million for next year. The district is expecting to get the new tax dollars from an inflationary increase and new property growth throughout the Harvard community.

However, the district is projecting the amount of funds gained from new growth will be outpaced by how fast home values in the district are growing, resulting in little change to the property tax rate for current residents. As a result, the district estimates the property tax rate from the district will decrease by about 20 cents per $100 of assessed value next year, assuming no change in the property’s assessed value.

The board will vote on the final levy at the Dec. 15 board meeting.

The levy estimates come as the district still is working to figure out how to spend about $7.3 million in federal funds that the district received in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The district must spend part of the money by the end of September 2023 and the rest by the end of September 2024.

Projects such as waiving registration fees for the next school year; buying Chromebooks; upgrading air conditioning units; and making improvements to classrooms, gyms and athletic facilities have taken up about $5.8 million of the federal dollars, according to a presentation by the board earlier this month.

Next, Tafoya suggested the district explore future projects, such as installing a turf football and soccer field, replacing floors and bleachers in gyms, building softball fields and tennis courts, and exploring expanding internet for rural families.

“This is a wonderful problem to have,” Tafoya said at a board meeting earlier this month. “We have money to do things. Now we just have to be wise about it.”