Danedri Thompson
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Gardner Edgerton school board members approved a $29 million budget with a 1 mill tax rate increase at its meeting Monday night. The increase will cost the owner of a $155,000 home approximately $19 more next year.
Board members hosted a statutorily-required public hearing on next year’s budget during the regular meeting, but no district residents addressed the board.
According to a report school finance director Eric Hansen provided the board of education, the budget highlights include:
• a .4 percent decrease in assessed valuations district wide. The previous year, assessed values in the district decreased more than 5 percent on average.
• a projected 4 percent increase in the number of students enrolled in USD 231. That translates into approximately 190 additional students in the district.
• a 3 percent increase in the percentage of the district’s budget that is provided through state aid. Approximately 67 percent of the 2011 budget will be derived from general state aid.
• a solid cash balance of more than $4.2 million in capital outlay funds as of June 30 – the close of fiscal year 2010.
• an additional $400,000 in special education aid.
• a decrease of 4 percent in expenditures per pupil.
• $134,000 more in the amount of total taxes levied in 2011 than in 2010 through the school’s 79.539 mill rate.
The school’s mill levy rate appears as three different lines on a property owner’s tax bill. Twenty mills are levied through a statewide mill, but appears as a USD 231 tax levy. For that levy only, the first $20,000 of a home’s value is exempted. The money is divvied to all districts using a school funding formula to provide base state aid per pupil. Base state aid is weighted based on a number of criteria.
A second school tax is levied by the district and is commonly referred to as the local option budget or the LOB. Next year, that rate will be 28.09 mills – 8 mills of that levy will fund the district’s capital outlay fund.
Finally, a third school tax line shows the district’s mill rate for bond payments.
At a previous meeting, Hansen warned board members that the district could see additional cuts to state aid throughout the year if state tax receipts continue to fail to meet expectations.
He also said the district will use some reserve funds to balance its 2011 budget.
“We’re going to continue to reduce our spending, and we’re going to continue to draw on our cash balances,” he said.
In other business, board members:
• approved a $55, 706 expenditure to renew a technology insurance policy that provides electronic hardware and software protection in the event of failure, software bugs and upgrades.
• viewed presentations from the district’s convocation and New Teacher Academy events.