Best option for local option budget

Unified School District 410

Last month, the USD 410 Board of Educa?tion made the decision to cut $392,000 from school district operating funds for next year.

Unless enrollment turns upward and state funding for schools improves, the board will face additional cuts for fiscal year 2016 as well.

Most of the cuts have been accomplished by reducing school district jobs. Over the past seven years, USD 410 has eliminated 19 full- and part-time jobs due to enrollment and funding challenges. All of these cuts impact students in some way, but most of the cuts have been made as far away from the classroom as possible.

Presently, Kansas law provides local boards of education the authority to establish a local option budget (LOB) that is up to 30 percent of the general fund without a vote of the public.

The LOB for USD 410 is a supplemental operational budget consisting of local property taxes and state aid. The LOB and general Fund are used to pay for daily operations of the school district.

Recently, the Legisla?ture passed?and Gov. Brownback signed?Sen. Sub for HB 2506, which allows local boards of education to raise the cap on the LOB from 31 to 33 percent beginning July 1, 2014.

In an effort to minimize future cuts to important school programs, voters will be asked to approve 31 percent LOB authority June 17, which would then allow the USD 410 Board of Education authority to raise the LOB to 33 percent of the general fund.

The result of this action is lower property taxes for patrons of USD 410 and more revenue to operate our schools.

Sen. Sub for HB 2506 is an attempt by the Kansas Legislature and governor to equalize funding for public school districts in response to the Kansas Supreme Court?s ruling on school funding equity. The high court ruled school funding equity is a constitutionally guaranteed right for public school students.

Equalization for USD 410 means the state will provide 46.7 cents for every dollar of LOB authority. It is because of this additional equalization funding from the state that a reduction on local property taxes will occur.

Keeping the LOB at 30 percent will result in no increase in operational dollars for USD 410 while lowering property taxes by an estimated amount of $157,892, or 4.4 mills.

Raising the LOB to 33 percent will result in additional revenue for USD 410 estimated to be $152,527 while lowering property taxes by an estimated amount of $76,215 or 2.1 mills.

Both scenarios reduce our local property taxes. Only one scenario increases revenue to operate our schools.

Steve P. Noble,

USD 410 superintendent