A Guide to Understanding the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL)
What is the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy?
The Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL), pronounced “pepple” in school jargon, is one of the most important sources of revenue for public school systems. It is a voter-approved tax of $1.34/$1,000 on property valuation of home and commercial property owners. For the Ames Community School District, this combined with a board approved option creates about $4 million annually.
What can the money be used for?
The $4 million are categorical funds that can only be used for specific purposes as it relates to building and grounds upkeep and repairs, new construction, technology (our 1:1 program for computers in every student’s hands), and equipment such as vehicles, maintenance equipment, furniture, and even large musical instruments for the band and orchestra program. The money cannot be used to pay teacher salaries, to fund student programs, or pay for utilities.
Why is it important?
Without the PPEL funds, many things that keep the District running would need to be paid for out of the District’s general fund, which also covers teacher salaries and programs for kids. Those are the things that are essential to educating students! It would mean making decisions to reduce staff and student programs by $4 million each year to take care of our physical plant and equipment needs.Over the past year, a number of facility projects, paid for through PPEL funds, have drastically improved the experience that students have at our schools. Here are some of those projects:
1:1 Computer Initiative:
The 1:1 laptop, first adopted in 2013, has allowed the ACSD to put a computer in every student’s hands, eliminating the digital divide within our school buildings. It is a vital and necessary tool in today’s instruction, and allows students to explore academic passions on their own. Last year, high school students received new MacBook Airs, and this year the same will happen at the middle school.
Ames Middle School Athletic Field:
The Middle School athletic field recently received improvements including a surfaced track, bleachers, and new restrooms and concession stand that will enhance student safety, performance, and the visitor experience. These updates were a direct result of PPEL funds that allows the district to make improvements to grounds and construct new buildings.
- Northwood Preschool parking lot and paving replacement, playground improvements
- Edwards Elementary playground expansion
- Middle School auditorium LED lighting
- Bus lease for district-wide transportation
- Old Edwards Elementary demolition
- Telecom network services
- Grounds and field care
- Copier leases
When is the renewal vote?
The authorization for the School District to levy this tax must be renewed by public vote every 10 years. The current authorization expires in June 2018. A vote to renew the levy is placed on the school board election ballot this fall, with voting taking place on Tuesday, September 12.
In 2007, the last time the levy was up for vote, the community approved the vote with an 84% yes vote. The Ames community has been very supportive of the school district and the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) is an example of that. It is an important piece of revenue for the Ames Community School District, and a renewal of that levy would allow the District to maintain facilities appropriately and invest in technology for students.