Danedri Thompson
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USD 231’s finance committee approved a budget proposal that keeps property taxes steady next year. However, the proposal includes a special assessment tax that will be added to Gardner and Edgerton tax bills next year.
Jeremy McFadden, USD 231 finance director, said his goal, when drafting the budget was to create a balanced budget with a flat mill levy.
“We put together a budget that does that,” McFadden explained.
The special assessment will add 2.005 mills to USD 231 tax bills.
The $32.9 million budget is based on a projection of 4.5 percent growth in student population.
McFadden explained state funding, which is based on number of students, makes up the largest portion of USD 231’s budget. He started the meeting with a brief history of Base State Aid Per Pupil, the funding mechanism legislators use to determine how much each district in Kansas receives. Since 2008, state aid has dropped from a high of $4,433 per student to a low of $3,780 in 2011. Next year, base state aid will increase slightly to $3,838.
“It’s been a challenge,” McFadden said. “That’s a drastic reduction. As you all know we’re not seeing decreasing costs. We’re not here to complain about it, but it is a challenge we must overcome.”
The state doesn’t give the district a pile of money to spend however it sees fit. Instead, McFadden explained, approximately 90 percent of the school’s budget is spoken for before budgeting begins.
State statute requires that Kansas schools host a budget hearing, publish the budget, approve it and file it with the state no later than Aug. 25. In addition to the published budget, McFadden said he will be drafting an operating budget that breaks out spending each month for board members to review. The operating budget is based on 4 percent student growth and budget will detail future commitments.
“”We’ll have a much better idea of where we are at any one time throughout the year,” McFadden said.
School board members must still approve the proposed budget. The next USD 231 Board of Education meeting is Aug. 6.
The finance committee includes two school board members, Ron Ragan and Mike McNulty; community members Laura Gourley, city finance director, and Patty Fabing; and district staff members Jeremy McFadden, USD 231 director of finance, Laura Warthen, accounts payable clerk, Judy Martin, director of special services, Carol Semrau, director of food service, Leann Northway, director of community relations, Ben Crosier, chief technology officer and Gina Zimmerman, teacher and union representative.
The district finance committee next meets at 3:45 p.m. on Sept. 18 in the board offices.