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Chat with Lawrence School Board Member Linda Robinson

January 24, 2008

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Linda Robinson will be in at 1:30 Thursday for a chat about the upcoming school district discussion about a possible increase to the local option budget, and the prospects of sending a proposal to voters this spring.

Moderator:

Good afternoon. I'm 6News education reporter Lindsey Slater and I'll be moderating this chat with School Board President Linda Robinson. We'll be discussing the upcoming school board discussion about a possible increase to the local option budget. Thanks for being here, Linda.

Linda Robinson:

My pleasure.

Moderator:

To start, can you explain what the local option budget is?

Linda Robinson:

The local option budget is a local funding option enabling our community to maintain high-quality public education in the Lawrence public schools. The State appropriates a General fund to the district, and the local option fund is percentage of that funding. Currently, USD 497 is at 30% of the General Fund.

Moderator:

What will you be discussing on Monday at the school board meeting about the local option budget?

Linda Robinson:

I think I need to provide some background information in order to answer that question. As a result of the State's school finance law suit of a few years ago, the State legislature rasied the amount of LOB that school district's could raise. However, the legislature placed a cap on the LOB at 30%; in order to go beyond that percentage, the districts must have an election. USD 497 is currently at 30%, therefore, it is necessary to have an election in order to raise the LOB. Two of our neighboring districts have already successfully passed their elections.

So, the Board will be discussing whether or not to raise the LOB to 31%.

Moderator:

If the Board does decide to raise the LOB to 31%, what happens next?

Linda Robinson:

On Monday night, the Board would need to adopt a resolution granting continuous and permanent authority to increase the local opton budget from 30% to 31% for the 2008-2009 school year. We would then need to determine a date for the election. Since there are no scheduled elections in Douglas county until August 1, we would be looking at an April 1 election in order for the funding to have an impact on the 2008 -2009 budget.

ksbeast:

What would the school board do with the extra money if it asked the public to vote for an increase in the Local Option Budget?

Linda Robinson:

The mission of the Lawrence Public Schools is "learning for all, whatever it takes". All of our resources are focused on student learning. The new money would be used for the purpose of student instruction.

The exact language for the resolution would be determined at the Monday night Board meeting.

Moderator:

How much money would the LOB raise cost taxpayers and how much money would the district get from the 1% increase?

Linda Robinson:

Based on projections using this year's student enrollment information, an increase of 1% in the LOB would raise $678,364.

For the owner of a home valued at $200,000, a 1% increase in the LOB is estimated to cost $1.15 per month (figures based on the 2007 -2008 school year).

Moderator:

Are there any other options for the district to raise money?

Linda Robinson:

That's a really good question. Other than the LOB (property tax), there is no other way that the public schools can raise the additional money that is needed to address state and federal mandates, including the NCLB (No Child Left Behind) act. Public schools cannot, for instance, charge tuition or raise sales or income taxes. Those options are open to other governing bodies. Public Schools budgets are determined by the State legislature, based on a formula that includes student enrollment and other mitigating factors. The state legislature has ruled that local school districts must use the LOB to offset the rising cost of public education.

Moderator:

That's all the time we have for our chat today. Thanks to Linda Robinson for coming in and talking with us.

Linda Robinson:

Thank you for having me.

Comments

commuter 6 years, 11 months ago

What a joke. Boy they really answered a lot of questions. I asked two questions that were not answered. Did anyone else?

Lori Nation 6 years, 11 months ago

I asked this question. I have 3 kids in elementary I pay over $100.00 just for school fees. (as do so many others here in Lawrence) Do they plan on reducing the fees and eventually eliminate them?? That question was not answered!!!

WHY NOT.

absolutelyridiculous 6 years, 11 months ago

email the board members. I can't support a LOB increase unless they can eliminate all school fees. I'm paying monthly (about $50) for 2 kids. The older they get, the more fees they tack on for the classes they want to take and the activities they want to be involved in. It creates a huge gap between those who have and those who have not. A good education and equal opportunities is based on what you are willing to pay. There should be a law suit there someplace. If you don't have the cash...you get a basic education. For a very democratic town...I'm surprised non one thought about this.

commuter 6 years, 11 months ago

Actually e-mailing the board members does not work. They will complain they do not get enough money and they "have" to tack on these fees. It is easier for them to blame someone else instead of looking at costs in USD497. i know I have tried. I am more curious to know if they do a budget to actual comparision. I would really be interested in that information more than hearing about their budget.

I just wanted everyone to know I personally just saved my company 10 billion dollars in budgeted expenses!!! Yeah, Yeah How, we don't have 10 billion dollars in income to offset these costs. School admin, here I come. they may want to hire me now.

absolutelyridiculous 6 years, 11 months ago

From the state Constitution: § 6: Finance. (b) The legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state. No tuition shall be charged for attendance at any public school to pupils required by law to attend such school, except such fees or supplemental charges as may be authorized by law. The legislature may authorize the state board of regents to establish tuition, fees and charges at institutions under its supervision.

How clever of them! Anyone know a good attorney who would take on the constitutionality of this law? It's unfair to those who can't afford to pay to play basketball, football or be a cheerleader.

Lori Nation 6 years, 11 months ago

And of course Linda Robinson will avoid the school fees. And where does she work again? Oh yeah thats right she did list that. I wonder why?? I sure do wish I could get her off of the school board and we need more people on board that are for those people who are paying the ridiculous school fees.

absolutelyridiculous 6 years, 11 months ago

I'm sorry..."supplemental" fees ARE tuition. Anything charged and that they hound you over to pay goes to supporting a "public" education. I wonder what they would do if I refused to pay them. Just refused. Would they let my kids attend school? Hmmmm. I think by law, they have to.

absolutelyridiculous 6 years, 11 months ago

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2006/aug... From the mouth of Sue Morgan "The district collects about $1 million per year in fees, including pay-to-ride, textbooks, extracurricular and activity charges."

Now I can't find a line item in the 2007-2008 Budget that includes "Supplemental Fees" as a a revenue source. http://www.ksde.org/Default.aspx?tabid=1932

And 2,200 out of 10,385.5 FTE students receive Free Meals. That tells me that 21% of our student's families are having a hard time paying fees.

Linda, we know you are reading this blog, make the LOB 1.6 million and maybe you can sell this.

Dacia McCabe Maher 6 years, 11 months ago

Here was my question sent in around 11:15:

How do you feel about diverting large amounts of possible usd 497 revenue to tax increment financing (TIF) projects? The public has very little knowledge of these kinds of subsidies and this is especially important when asking the public to consider an additional increase in their taxes. Should there be policies in place that perform cost/benefit analyses of potential projects to help ensure the benefit to the community will be greater than the overall loss of revenue? Thanks for your time.

In hindsight, I guess there wasn't enough time to answer questions.

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