The Lawrence school board approved a budget for the 2013-2014 school year that allows up to an 18 percent increase in total spending, although officials said the actual increase will likely to be much less than that.
The budget passed, 6-0. Board member Keith Diaz Moore was absent from the meeting.
The vote came after the district's finance director Kathy Johnson gave the first detailed public presentation about the budget since the board voted to publish a two-page summary of the spending totals last month.
That summary — officially known as the Code 99 form — spells out the maximum amount to be spent out of each of the district's funds, and the amount of local property tax the district will need to levy.
But Johnson said the district typically publishes a budget that is higher than what it actually expects to spend, “because you can't exceed that published amount, and if you do exceed those maximums, a budget would have to be republished, and in some cases we can't do that.”
She said actual spending increases in the Lawrence district have averaged about 3 percent to 5 percent a year over the last several years, and she expects next year's actual increase to be in that range.
Johnson noted that the district's general operating fund — the amount it receives from the state for general operations, based on the district's weighted enrollment — has grown only about $2.2 million over the last five years.
While the district's enrollment has grown substantially over that time, she said, the state's base school aid formula has been cut more than 12 percent, to $3,838 per pupil.
Board vice president Shannon Kimball defended the district's budget plan.
“Given that we have done some really good things in our district, like going back and reducing our class sizes again last year, increasing our compensation for our teachers and classified and administrative staff for the last two years, we're actually doing more with less from the state and doing it more efficiently,” she said.
The budget calls for an estimated property tax levy this year of 57.921 mills, or $1,332 in tax on a home valued at $200,000. That is virtually unchanged from last year's tax rate.
In other business, the board:
• Approved a contract with Terracon Consultants, Inc., for asbestos abatements in buildings being remodeled during the bond-funded construction projects.
• Approved contracts with Gould Evans Associates and Sabatini Architects for architectural services related to bond-funded construction projects.
• And discussed refining the board's goals for the 2013-2014 school year and instructed Superintendent Rick Doll to draft a formal document for consideration at the Sept. 9 meeting.