Archive for Friday, July 15, 2016

Kansas school districts get ready to tackle budgets following school finance decision

July 15, 2016

In the weeks since the Legislature’s last-minute school funding “fix,” the De Soto and Shawnee Mission school districts continue to study how their 2016-17 budgets will shake out.

Officials with the De Soto district, likely to lose just under $300,000 in state aid, don’t see a property tax rate increase in their future; in fact, thanks to increased property values, the rate may decrease. Shawnee Mission, set to lose more than $1 million in state aid, will see a slight increase.

Alvie Cater, spokesman for the De Soto district, said it has been hard to plan because the district had yet to receive funding numbers from the state.

It appeared that the district would receive $296,000 less in local option aid, but it should make up the difference because the assessed valuation of the district is up — so much that the property tax rate may even be slightly reduced.

The district’s current total mill levy is 74.348. A mill is equal to $1 in taxes per $1,000 dollars of a property’s assessed value.

Cater said the district isn’t planning to make any budget reductions compared to the last school year.

The school board will set its schedule at Monday’s meeting, but Cater said the district’s current plan is to present a budget at the school board’s first meeting in August, with a budget hearing and approval set for a meeting a couple of weeks later, between Aug. 22 and 24.

Shawnee Mission receives about 71 percent of its operating resources through the state. Its spending authority from the local option budget is $59.8 million.

The district so far has built its budget based on block grant funding, so last month, it was planning for a funding loss for supplemental state aid of about $1.5 million. It was planning to increase its local option budget mill levy by just under half a mill to reach its spending authority of $59.8 million.

Russell Knapp, financial administrator, noted in a presentation to the school board last month that this would make the district’s total mill levy 54.533 and would likely equate to a tax increase of $11 for the year for someone who owns a $200,000 home.

The budget also called for professional growth but no other salary increases; a reduction of about 30 full time staff members, most of them classified, to save $1.2 million; and cost increases of $1.2 million or more each for transportation, utilities and supplies and services.

With an additional projected state aid loss of $1.44 million, said Leigh Anne Neal, assistant superintendent of communications, the district anticipates a budget deficit for the 2016-17 school year.

“We will manage the budget carefully to keep the deficit as low as possible and balance the deficit with reserve funds,” she said.

Knapp told the school board last month that the district should close out the 2015-16 school year with an ending balance of about $12.4 million; about $2 million of that is funds required to be held for worker’s compensation.

Shawnee Mission also plans additional budget presentations later this month and next month.

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