The Lawrence school board voted recently to renew its authority to levy a tax that funds adult basic education programs. But district officials say that does not mean property taxes are going to increase.
The vote, which occurred April 8 as part of the school board's consent agenda, reauthorizes an existing tax that funds adult basic education services offered at the district's Centennial Adult Education Center, 2145 Louisiana St.
Sharen Steele, who directs the center, said an estimated 543 adult students are enrolled there this year. That includes 223 enrolled in the Adult Basic Education program where students study for their GED exam. Another 320 students are enrolled in the center's diploma completion program where they work on completing their high school diplomas through Lawrence High School or Free State High School.
"I just know with the numbers that we serve, there is a definite need in our community, and I think it's a real positive thing that we're doing for the adults," Steele said.
Under Kansas law, school districts are authorized to levy up to one-half of a mill in property taxes - or $5.75 in tax on a $100,000 house - to fund adult education programs. That tax enables them to draw down additional state and federal aid for those programs.
The tax must be approved by a resolution for five years at a time. The last time the Lawrence school board authorized the tax was in 2008, which meant it was due for renewal this year.
The resolution gives the district authority to levy up to half a mill, but in recent years the Lawrence district has not used its full authority.
For the current year, the district levies only 0.4 mills for adult education, or $4.60 in tax on a $100,000 house. That is expected to generate about $360,000 in revenue for the programs, or about 70 percent of the total revenue for the program.
In addition, the district receives $52,483 in state aid; $80,807 in federal funds; and another $24,036 from Douglas County.
Steele is retiring at the end of this academic year. She will be succeeded by Rick Henry, currently the career and technical education specialist at the district office.