School budget estimated at $9 million
Once again, the local option budget has come to the rescue.
"The LOB has saved us the last three years," said Richard Erickson, superintendent of the Tongan-oxie school district.
"We would have been in dire straits without it," he said.
The school district's estimated budget for the 2000-2001 school year is set at about $9 million. The two prior years were $8,840,000 and $8,793,465.
In the face of decreasing enrollment and increasing costs, the district turned to the local option budget.
During the upcoming school year, the local option budget, based upon a tax levy that measures at 16.73 percent of the general fund, will generate about $1,123,473 for the school district.
Of that amount, about 60 percent comes from district taxpayers and 40 percent is paid by the state.
This helps take the pressure off the general fund, which has stagnated with the declining enrollment in recent years.
During the 1999-2000 school year, the local option budget generated $810,000; during the 1998-1999 school year, $486,216; and during the 1997-1998 school year, $286,776.
Currently, Erickson is estimating that the school district will have a full-time equivalent student enrollment of 1,400 this fall.
At the start of the 1999-2000 school year, the district's FTE was 1,417. The year prior to that, 1998-1999, the district showed an FTE of 1,466.
Because the state of Kansas pays about $5,000 per pupil to the district's general fund, this means that during each of these years the district has continued operating with less additional money in the general fund each year.
Erickson termed the process of making ends meet a "balancing act."
"We're living with conservative practices to stretch the dollar as far as we can," he said.
A $50 state increase in per-pupil funding approved by the Legislature this year will help.
"Which, if we would have 1,400 students, including the low-enrollment weighting, would allow about $85,000 additional budget authority," he said.
One area where Erickson believes the district could save some money is special education, which is contracted through the Leavenworth County Special education services are budgeted at $537,000, including transportation, for the 2000-2001 school year. Last year, the district paid $522,331 for special education, and during the year before that, 1998-1999, the district paid $493,959.
Erickson said a study completed by Greenbush Educational Consortium showed that it could be less expensive if the district ran its own special education program.
"They summarized that we can save as much as $50,000 a year by having our own special education program," Erickson said. "Also, we wouldn't have to transport our students to Leavenworth."
But until a facility can be found to house the special education services, Erickson said that wouldn't happen.
Even in the midst of no growth in the general fund to start the school years with, Erickson noted the district has managed to put the allowed 2 percent into the capital outlay fund, which helps maintain and update buildings.
However, Erickson said he thought that the tight budget most likely would not allow a 2 percent transfer into the capital outlay fund during the 2000-2001 school year.
Salaries of certified teaching positions this year are budgeted at $3,480,000. Last year, certified salaries totaled $3,257,260. And during the 1998-1999 school year, salaries for certified teachers came in at $3,194,453.
Administrative salaries budgeted for this year include a total of $354,000 for principals and assistant principals. Last year this amount was $322,144, and during the 1998-1999 school year that amount totaled $292,191.
The district administrator's salary is budgeted at $80,000 for this school year. This shows an increase from $77,573 during the 1999-2000 school year and of $71,528 during the 1998-1999 school year.
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