Archive for Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Eudora school board proposes budget that raises taxes, provides for nearly $1 million more in classroom spending

August 16, 2017


The Eudora school board has proposed a 2017-2018 budget that provides nearly $1 million for new classroom spending while increasing the property tax rate by 3.888 mills.

The board will consider approving the proposed budget after a public hearing scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Aug. 22 at the district office, The total district mill levy in the proposed budget is 74.256 mills. At that rate, the district’s share of taxes on a $175,000 single-family home would be about $1,448. The proposed increase amounts to about a $78 increase in annual property taxes for a $175,000 home.

The $28.1 million budget is the first for the district under the new school finance formula the Kansas Legislature adopted last spring. The new formula will provide the district $970,000 more for classroom use, said Eudora Superintendent Steve Splichal.

“It’s welcome,” he said. “Our board has approached this very methodically. They looked at everything. They stripped away kindergarten fees this year. They looked at staffing to create better opportunities for kids and to decrease class sizes.”

The new formula provided the district with about $785,000 in new general fund revenue and another $185,000 added money for its local option budget. The state gives local school boards the authority to fund LOBs to supplement the state money they receive for their general fund. The Eudora district, which funds its LOB at the statutory maximum of its general fund, would raise $3.35 million in LOB funding in the proposed budget. Of that, $855,000 would be raised through local property taxes, requiring a mill levy of 13.992 mills.

The increase in LOB funding accounts for part of the district’s proposed mill levy increase. The remainder is from an increase of 2.629 mills in the district’s bond and interest fund. Splichal said the board approved that increase to prevent an even greater spike in the bond and interest fund in the 2018-2019 budget.

“We’re trying to cushion that blow,” he said. “Principle and interest rates aren’t flat. They fluctuate depending on the interest rates of the various bonds.”

The new school funding formula that provided the district the added revenue for the coming year also made the proposed budget tentative. The Kansas Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the new formula after hearing arguments in July about whether it funded K-12 education adequately as constitutionally required.

Although it was difficult to predict what the Supreme Court would do, it is very doubtful judges would rule the new formula provided local school districts too much money, Splichal said. More likely, the court would find the new formula doesn’t meet the constitutional mandate to adequately fund K-12 education because it provides less per-pupil state aid than the court ruled the Legislature needed to provide in 2008, he said.


Becky Plate 10 months ago

As a homeowner, I absolutely respect the concerns people have over property taxes. But I also hope that everyone can take a deep breath and remember that most of this is the result of policy problems at the state level. The per pupil funding that is constitutionally mandated in Kansas has not been met for several years now, and base state aid will finally be around the same this year as it was in 2010. That does not account for inflation, significantly higher insurance costs, or the losses that districts incurred over the last several years of being allowed even less state funding. The new formula that passed in to law (pending the Supreme Court ruling) relies on local communities making up some of the difference through local taxes. This expectation hurts districts like Eudora the most because our community is property poor compared to most other school districts. This means that the money we can raise locally with one mill is much less than they can in more property wealthy districts like Blue Valley. That is the reason we have historically had one of the highest mill rates, and why we have to work harder to pick up the slack when the state does not collect enough to meet its constitutional obligations. Please, at least think about calling your state legislators and gubernatorial candidates about providing adequate and equitable state funding for public schools in every Kansas town before jumping to publicly attacking our local schools. A person can still not want their taxes to go up, while understanding that the educators and school children in our community are not the villains in this story. Irresponsible, unrealistic tax policy at the state level is the main culprit that got us to this point. Now we have to figure out how to handle it, how to address the problem they have given us, together as a community.

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