The Lawrence school board on Monday passed the largest tax increase in six years.
"It's going to benefit Lawrence kids," board President Leonard Ortiz said.
The $111.9 million net budget includes a 5.504 mill increase.
That means the owner of a $100,000 home who paid $491 in school taxes now will pay $554.
The additional funds will cover salaries, technology improvements, and other benefits to students, Ortiz said.
And they also help the district keep up with the rising costs of doing business, board member Sue Morgan said. The district is paying for increased costs of fuel, utilities, and insurance.
The tax increase helps pay for the $63 million bond issue passed by voters in April.
The board also opted to increase taxes for the local option budget to the maximum amount.
The Kansas Supreme Court earlier this month gave its OK to a provision in the school finance law to increase the limit on school districts' local option budgets, or LOBs. Under the change, an LOB can now account for 27 percent of a district's general fund, up from 25 percent. The board opted for 27 percent, which will bring in an additional $6.5 million.
The board also could have raised the taxes from 6 to 8 mills for its capital outlay fund, which is used for facilities and replacing and purchasing equipment. The board voted to keep that levy at 6 mills.
The tax increase follows several years of a declining tax rate. The mill levy decreased for 2002-03, 2003-04, and 2004-05. The last significant mill levy increase was in 1999-00, when taxes increased by 6.079 mills.
The new money will fund such items as new technology specialists to aid with technology upgrades, employee salary increases, and new positions.
"We need it," board member Craig Grant said. "It's going to be well spent."
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