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Archive for Saturday, July 13, 1991

SCHOOL BUDGET FOR LAWRENCE TOPS $39 MILLION

July 13, 1991

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The Lawrence school district's proposed 1991-92 budget totals $39,235,677, a 1.4 percent increase over last year's budget of $38,677,452.

However, a $2.6 million drop in state aid to the district is largely responsible for an expected mill levy increase from 69.56 mills to 79.37 mills.

Lawrence school board members received copies of the proposed budget on Friday, and on Monday the board will consider approving the budget for publication.

THE 9.81-MILL levy increase presented in the proposed budget is slightly lower than the 9.85-mill levy increase that board administrators had projected. A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed property valuation.

Under the new estimated levy, the owner of an $80,000 home would pay about $762 in annual property taxes to the district, or about $94 more than last year.

The proposed general fund budget is nearly $30.7 million, or $204,500 more than last year.

However, Lawrence School Supt. Dan Neuenswander said that the general fund increase does not contribute to the mill levy increase because it actually was transfered from the "revolving fund" to the general fund to help increase teacher salaries.

WHAT DID contribute to the mill levy increase was the $2.6 million cut in state aid. Even with $975,400 in cost-saving measures passed by the board in June, under the proposed budget, the mill levy for the general fund would rise from 62.93 mills to 71.67 mills.

The proposed budget also calls for a mill levy increase for the district's capital outlay fund, from 2.828 mills to 4.0 mills. This spring, the Legislature ended two years of holding the capital outlay fund to a certain dollar amount, and now the board is expected to take full advantage of the reinstated mill levy authority of 4 mills.

The new mill levy would generate about $1.23 million for the capital outlay fund, compared to the $846,000 the district was allowed to raise last year.

THE PROPOSED mill levy for the bond and interest fund is 3.27 mills, down slightly from last year's levy of 3.352 mills. The fund is primarily for retiring the $8.6 million in bonds issued in 1986 to build Quail Run School and make several school additions.

The mill levy for the transportation and special assessments funds would drop slightly, and the mill levy that supports adult basic education would rise slightly.

The projected levies are based on an estimated total valuation for U.S.D. 497 of $307,628,000, about a 3 percent increase over last year's valuation.

The proposed budget would result in a decrease in per-pupil general fund expenditures, from $3,653 to $3,494. Previously, per-pupil expenditures always had gone up from year to year.

THE BUDGET report projects a districtwide enrollment of 9,140 students, a 4.2 percent increase over the 8,775 students who were enrolled in the district last school year. The budget allows for the hiring of 10 to 12 additional teachers to offset the increased enrollment.

About the only piece of the budget picture not yet put in place is that of teachers' salaries.

Teacher and board negotiators have gone to impasse over that issue. The school board negotiating team has proposed increasing the base salary by nearly 1.4 percent. The Lawrence Education Assn. has proposed a 3.7 percent increase in the base salary.

In addition to a general agreement that salaries should be raised, the board and LEA have agreed that teachers would receive automatic pay increases that come with longevity or additional graduate study completed.

TO IMPLEMENT those increases, the district would have to put an additional $335,700 into salaries, a 1.9 percent increase over what was put into salaries during the 1990-91 school year.

Sam Rabiola, LEA president, said his negotiating team would listen to any new proposals from the board.

"We'd be glad to sit down at the table still," he said. "We'd be glad to get this all taken care of before school starts again."

When an impasse was declared in 1984, negotiations ended up lasting through October. Although this year's impasse was declared more than three weeks ago, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service has not yet assigned a mediator to assist in the salary negotiations.

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