VIEWPOINT:   Voters can increase school funding without raising local taxes

Superintendent, USD 410

Last month, the Board of Education made the decision to cut $392,000 from school district operating funds for next year. Unless enrollment turns upward and state funding for schools improves, the board will face additional cuts for the fiscal year after that as well.

Most of the cuts have been accomplished by reducing school district jobs. Over the past seven years, USD 410 has eliminated 19 full- and part-time jobs due to enrollment and funding challenges.

Kansas law allows local boards of education to establish a local option budget that is up to 30 percent of the general operating fund without a vote of the public. The local option budget for USD 410 is a supplemental budget paid for by local property taxes and state aid. The local option and general funds pay for daily operations of the school district.

Recently, the legislature passed a bill allowing school to raise the cap on the local option from 31 percent to 33 percent beginning July 1. In an effort to minimize future cuts to important school programs, voters will be asked to approve the increased local option budget on June 17, which would then allow the Board of Education authority to raise the local option budget to 33 percent of the general fund.

The result of this action is would be more revenue to operate our schools.

The bill also restored equalization funding for school districts including USD 410 to comply with a state Supreme Court ruling. The state will provide 46.7 percent of USD 410’s local option budget. With this additional state funding, a reduction on local property taxes will occur.

Keeping the local option budget at 30 percent will result in no increase in operational dollars for USD 410 while lowering property taxes by an estimated amount of $157,892 — about $51 of property taxes on a house appraised at $100,000.

Raising the local option budget to 33 percent would result in additional revenue for USD 410 estimated to be $152,527 while lowering property taxes by an estimated amount of $76,215 — about $24 on a house appraise at $100,000.

Both scenarios reduce our local property taxes. Only one scenario increases revenue to operate our schools.

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