School district news

Abilene Public School’s proposed 2019-20 budget includes a significant bump in the capital outlay fund that could potentially be used for facility improvements.

“Obviously, we’ve got some goals for facilities that we have in mind,” Superintendent Greg Brown told Abilene school board members.

The board met for a special meeting Monday morning and approved publishing the proposed budget of $26,838,122, funded by a 52.270 mill levy. The levy is up 1.24 mills over the recently concluded 2018-19 school year when the levy was at 51.032.

Based on the 52.270 levy, the owner of a $100,000 home will pay $601.11 in school district taxes.

Brown reported the district’s assessed valuation has increased over last year, which means a mill will raise more money. A mill is equal to $1 in tax for every $1,000 of assessed valuation.

“That’s a good thing (assessed valuation increase) for school budgets, even though the mill rate is going up as well,” he said. “Ideally, we like to see that hold steady, but both together does increase the tax dollars for our patrons.”

Kansas school districts get revenue from four funds: General, Supplemental General (Local Option Budget), Capital Outlay and Bond and Interest.

The 20-mill general fund is set by the state and determined by a school district’s headcount, based on enrollment and various “weighting” factors. The supplemental general or LOB (local option budget) in the proposed budget is set at 14.745; capital outlay is at 8 mills and the district’s debt service (bond and interest) is at 9.525 mills, for the 52.27 mills total.

While that number is higher than last year’s levy, it is less than the 2017-18 school year when it was at 53.608 mills.

“When you look at total mills, we’re still down from where we were two years ago,” commented Board President Kyle Becker.

Budgeting for facilities

The proposed budget includes $2.232 million in capital outlay that may be used on facilities. That amount is up significantly from the $543,458 allocated in 2018-19.

The increase reflects the board’s commitment to address projects left undone in the 2014 school improvement project.

In 2014, Abilene school district patrons approved a $24.2 million bond issue to raise funds to build Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary, provide new additions at Abilene High School and one at Abilene Middle School, renovate areas at both schools, create secure entries at McKinley and Kennedy elementary and do other work.

The project also was supposed to include renovations on the high school vocational/agriculture building, a new bus barn and improvements at the football stadium. Unfortunately, the money ran out before all planned projects were completed, leaving those areas behind and the board said they would deal with them at a later time.

Brown told board members Monday the district has about $3 million in capital outlay funds. “But we wouldn’t want to spend that all at once,” he said.

Capital outlay funds primarily are used for various facility improvements.

Board Member Randy Gassman asked why only $2.2 million is being budgeted for capital outlay spending.

“Is that money really in there or is that where we’re going to be once we levy?” Gassman questioned.

“That money would really be in there,” Brown answered. “The $2.2 million would include what we’d be picking up this year as well as some of what we already have.”

Clerk of the Board Joan Anderson explained the district typically sets $1.5 million aside.

At-risk up

The budget for at-risk spending is up significantly over where it was two years ago. The proposed at-risk budget is $1,540,000 for the 2019-20 school year. That’s an increase over last year which came in at $1,357,308. Both are a big jump over 2017-18 when at-risk was at $355,616.

Brown said the at-risk increase is “by design.”

“For all practical purposes we haven’t changed a whole lot of what we do with taking care of kids, but the legislative branch wants to make sure significant money is spent for at-risk students,” Brown said. “So we have reorganized where we’re putting the money.”

The notice of hearing and proposed budget will be published in the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle.

Once published, the budget can be reduced, but cannot be increased.

Contact Kathy Hageman at reporter@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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