Archive for Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Funding plan: School district stands to gain

April 6, 2005

Tonganoxie school Superintendent Richard Erickson isn't complaining about the Legislature's answer to the school funding dilemma.

A Kansas Supreme Court mandate gave the Legislature until next Tuesday to come up with a way to adequately fund K-12 education.

"I feel good about it, I really do," Erickson said. "The funding proposal is so much greater than what we've seen in the last 13 years that I'm positive and optimistic about it."

However, he still has questions.

"The only concern I have at this point is the future and whether this plan has any components that will take care of future funding," Erickson said.

Here's how the Legislature's plan will affect the Tonganoxie school district:

  • The basic increase will be $115 per student. So, with 1,560 students, that increase will mean an additional state aid of $179,400 for the 2005-2006 school year, Erickson said.
  • Then, when weightings for low enrollment and transportation are added, the district would actually receive state aid on a formula based on 1,855 students. Moreover, an increase allowed in the at-risk weighting would boost the district's state aid by another 40,000.
  • That means, Erickson said, the total increase in funding would be about $250,000.

The district's general fund budget for the current school year is $7.3 million. Of that, Erickson said, about 96 percent, or roughly $7 million funds salaries.

Currently, the district's local option budget, a locally paid tax, is set at about 22 percent of the general fund budget. This year the LOB is adding $1.8 million to the district's funding. The current legal ceiling for the LOB is 25 percent. This year, the state is paying 35.93 percent of the LOB. The Legislature's plan is to increase the LOB ceiling that district's can levy to 30 percent. And that additional 5 percent in taxes will be generated locally -- with no contribution from the state.

It's imperative that the state continues to make adequate provisions for school funding, Erickson said.

"I think in our district, we're growing so fast, obviously salary increases are always going to be a consideration and also adding new staff to meet our needs, and adding new programs to provide the best in educational services for our kids," Erickson said.

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