USD 338 school board sends budget to press as state reduces funding
by Clarke Davis
The Valley Falls school board sent its annual budget to press Monday night setting a hearing date of Aug. 8 at 6:15 p.m. prior to the regular meeting.
USD 338 taxpayers will see a slight increase in the levy of less than a half mill if the board approves the budget after the hearing.
The budget being published this week calls for the same 20 mills the state sets plus 28.213 for the local option budget, a rate set by the local board. Last year’s LOB mill levy was 27.006 mills.
Taxpayers will see a decrease in the bond and interest levy at 8.329, down from 9.122 last year. That rounds out the total levy at 56.542, up from last year’s 56.128.
State aid per pupil has dropped from $4,433 to $3,780 in three years and USD 338 has a general fund budget that is $112,000 less than last year. It also has 2 1/2 fewer teachers and one less administrator.
Superintendent Loren Feldkamp took the board through the budget worksheets pointing out changes the Legislature made that further cut funds to the school.
Lower enrollment, a slight decrease in district valuation, and less state aid are all factors that had to be accounted for in coming up with a budget.
Two areas of interest were the supplemental general (local option) budget which took a hit when the Legislature met. This fund, taxed locally, is matched at the rate of 62 percent in state funds. However, no new money was added, leaving the fund short and costing the Valley Falls district $62,000.
The Legislature also wants districts to spend down their reserves from 10 percent to 6 percent. The district’s contingency reserve fund will be spent down by an extra $7,000 this year, which will help the general fund but it means less on hand in future years.
Feldkamp told the board that the state did come through with more money for special education that will be passed on to Keystone Learning Services. The district also has an increase in students designated as being at-risk, which brings more dollars to the district. Feldkamp is suggesting adding a full-time aide for this segment of the population.
At-risk students are determined with about 20 indicators that include classroom performance, one-parent family, income, etc. USD 338 has student body totaling 395 students of which 130 are considered at-risk. That number has increased from 97 last year.
In other business, the board hired Mark Scherschligt, Topeka, to be the high school social studies teacher. He replaces Katie Ackerman, who is now the K-12 counselor.
Angie Tillery will be the middle school cheerleader sponsor and a resignation was received from Nichole Newman, a cook.
A worn out 1993 model school bus was sold for $1,275.
The board approved publishing the budget on a 5-1 vote with LaVerne Clark opposed. Those in favor were John Shipley, Jody Lockhart, Carrie Belveal, Heidi Pickerell, and James Stevens. Sharon Sweeney was absent.
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