Proposed 2017-2018 budget approved for publication
The Augusta school board approved for publication Monday a proposed 2017-2018 budget that reflects a slight decrease in the overall mill levy.
The proposed spending plan sets the district's local option budget at the maximum 30 percent of general fund dollars allowed by state statute. The district’s capital outlay fund was also set at the statutory 8-mill maximum.
At 63.406 mills, the district's share of taxes on a $150,000 single-family home would be about $1,047.75.
The new school funding formula played a big role in shaping the proposed budget, but also made it tentative. The Kansas Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the new formula after hearing arguments in July about whether it funded K-12 education adequately as constitutionally required.
The Kansas Department of Education instructed districts to move ahead with budgets for the next year despite the uncertainty.
“This budget is built off of Senate Bill 19. When they (Kansas Supreme Court) rule, we may get hit with a few surprises, but no one expects them rule ‘unconstitutional’ preventing schools to open. School will start,” Superintendent John Black said.
“It’s good to see enrollment numbers up,” Board member Larry Winter said.
“A few years ago the number of kindergarten students was up to 210. Last year it was 130, but now it looks like 160,” Black explained.
Black stated that he was optimistic any changes resulting from a court ruling would not have a negative impact on the district.
The Board approved publishing the notice of hearing for the 2017-2018 Budget, 6-0. The public hearing will be at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 28, 2017, at the district office.
Summer Lunch Program recognitions
BOE President Bill Rinkenbaugh shared that over 3,000 meals were served during the eight week summer lunch program. Last year, the program served 1,948.
Rinkenbaugh said, “USD 402 Board of Education would like to recognize several volunteers for their help in this year’s program. This program wouldn’t have been the success that it was without these people: Jill Bostwick, a volunteer who led the efforts and had the help of LeAnn Boucher to organize volunteers in supervision, daily snacks and weekend food packs. They also provided small trinkets for the children at the end of each week.”
Other valuable volunteers recognized were Larry Nichols for printing the signs located across the city to inform people about the program. Beth Wallingford, the Methodist Church helped coordinated meals at the church, along with the use of a driver, Bob Gass, and their bus to provide transportation for students going to the summer lunch program at Robinson Elementary School.
The Methodist Church picked up the program the first two weeks following the last day of school and the two weeks before school started this month.
“The Board would like to thank you each of you for the time you gave in support of this program for kids and their families,” said Rinkenbaugh.
Filling board vacancy
Superintendent Black advised the board that after visiting with board president Rinkenbaugh, he was recommending that the board pass a resolution to fill the open position on the board. Black stated that because of upcoming knee surgery for board member Bob McCalla, it would be in the best interest of the board and the community to fill the open position. The board has received one letter of interest.
The resolution was approved, 6-0, and will be posted in the newspaper. There will be a 15 day waiting period before the board appointment in September.
“We currently have a number of small transportations needs; taking students to colleges, academies, special education routes, and needs for after school events. No buses are needed now,” said Black.
The board approved the purchase of two 10 passenger Ford Transit vans at the price of $26,518 per van. A bid on a third van, a Chrysler Caravan, will be presented to the board at a future meeting.
Renewal of Schools for Fair Funding
Superintendent Black reminded board members that Augusta USD 402 has been a member of Schools for Fair Funding from the beginning. The local BOE has taken a proactive position for advocation adequate and equitable funding for Kansas public education. The Kansas Supreme Court is still deliberating the oral arguments of the case.
“We’ve been in it from the beginning and unless there is a good reason to get out, I recommend you continue participation,” Black added, “This year the fee, $6,476.10 is down form $8,638 in 2016.”
“I think it has had significant influence in helping to keep Kansas public school children as top priority,” Black also advised that once the case is settled, the SFFF organization will decide on how to dispense remaining funds.
“I agree. The Schools for Fair Funding has certainly helped, but we still have Governor Brownback and Senator Masterson last time I looked,” said BOE member Larry Winter.
Board members were reminded of a board goal setting meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 21.
An executive session was held to discuss personnel.