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More districts pass school bonds; more elections in June

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On Wednesday, I reported about a number of school districts other than Lawrence where voters decided on bond issues this week. Late in the day, we received an even longer list from the Kansas State Department of Education.

From that list - which includes only those districts that had to seek permission from the state in order to exceed the legal debt limit of 14 percent of the district's assessed valuation - at least four more school districts successfully passed bond issues on Tuesday:

• Seaman school district (Shawnee County), $57.485 million, passed with 66 percent of the vote.

• Goodland school district (Sherman County), $14.995 million, passed with 53 percent of the vote.

• Osawatomie school district (Miami County), $3.2 million, passed with 69 percent of the vote.

• Oswego school district (Labette County), $3.25 million, passed with 65 percent of the vote.

One thing notable about the above list: Unlike Lawrence and a few other districts, they receive substantial subsidies from the state to pay off their bonds. The state calls it "equalization aid," a formula that holds down property tax mill levies for debt service payments in districts that have relatively low valuations.

In Oswego, a district with only $11 million in assessed valuation and about 500 students, the state of Kansas pays 63 percent of the bond payments.

At Seaman, a middle-class suburban district north of Topeka, the state pays about 27 percent.

The next big round of bond elections will be June 4. That will be after the legislative session ends, and voters will have a better idea of how much of the various kinds of state aid schools will be getting next year. Here's a list of the school districts, the size of the bond issue they are seeking, and the percentage of debt service payments funded with state aid:

• West Franklin school district (Franklin County), $14.32 million - 25 percent state aid.

• Central Heights (Franklin County), $1.75 million - 46 percent state aid.

• Ellis school district (Ellis County), $10 million - No state aid.

• Lyons school district (Lyons County), $13.25 million - 39 percent state aid.

• Galena school district (Cherokee County), $7.5 million - 68 percent state aid.

• Riley County school district (Riley County), $7.5 million - 68 percent state aid.

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