Final B&I payment adds to levy increase at USD 340
by Clarke Davis
The Jefferson West school board has set its annual budget hearing for 7 p.m. Aug. 8 at the district office.
The budget, published last week, calls for a tax levy increase of 4.7 mills driven by two things, a final payment on the high school bonds and a hike in the local option budget.
Superintendent Pat Happer reports that the levy for the bond and interest fund will go from 6.4 to 9.2 mills to make the final payment on the high school bonds that is due a year from September.
The local option budget, which is money raised locally and a tax set by the board, will increase about 2 mills.
This increase will make up for cuts in state aid for this fund enacted by the state Legislature. The extra revenue will replace a loss of about $44,000 and give the district a surplus above that of about $22,000.
Happer explained that the state supplements district LOB funds based on a district wealth — its assessed value and number of students. Jefferson West used to garner about 54 percent from the state for the LOB, but the Legislature continues to cut that amount, first at the 92 percent level and now at 83 percent.
The Jefferson West district has had a slight increase in its valuation that helps the district, but it continues to lose student population. Bigger classes are graduating and smaller classes are coming into kindergarten and first grade.
Happer said he expects a loss of about 20 students and has based the budget on 863.
Negotiations between the board and teachers have been completed and ratified. That agreement includes moving a $250 life insurance benefit to the salary schedule plus a one-time salary payment of $175. Teachers will not move down or across on the salary schedule, but the district will pick up the tab for a 12 percent increase in health insurance.
Happer said the health insurance increase will cost the district about $120,000.
The board will hold a goal-setting session from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Topeka headquarters of the Kansas Association of School Boards.
“This will assist the board and me to set some goals and see if we have the same expectations . . . We should learn if my vision and the board’s is the same,” he said.
This is a public meeting.
Work continues on summer projects financed through a low-interest state loan. These include a new transportation and maintenance building and remodeling of the restrooms in the elementary building. Windows are also being replaced in the older portions of the elementary building.
Overseeing some aspects of these projects is former superintendent Scott Myers. He was contracted by the board for an additional 15 days at $4,000 to also follow up on an interactive distance learning project and assist in finishing up with some details on the budget.
After the regular Aug. 8 meeting the board will hold a special meeting Tuesday, Aug. 16, to tour the district. Members will meet at the new transportation building at 6 p.m.
Among matters before the board July 11 was relocating the after-prom party. Committee members told the board that it would be moved to the high school this year instead of a Topeka bowling alley as in years past. The prom is held in the ag. building at the Topeka Expocentre.
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