A 4.3-mill increase in local property taxes for Great Bend USD 428’s supplemental budget will be offset by a 4.3-mill decrease in local property taxes for the district’s bonded indebtedness, Superintendent Khris Thexton said Thursday. The result will be “a wash,” and the total tax rate virtually unchanged from last year at about 45.9 mills.
Each mill raises more money this year because district valuations have increased. An estimated $6.9 million will be levied, compared to $6.7 million in 2016-2017 and $6.5 million in 2015-2016.
After two years of block grant funding from the Kansas Legislature, schools will return to a formula based on weighted enrollments. The state base is $4,006 per student, but weighting means the district gets to count extra “students,” which translates to extra funding, for expenses such as bilingual students, technical education courses, transportation costs, and for the number of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches.
Enrollment has been declining at Great Bend, but it didn’t matter under the block grant formula. Now, declining enrollment will start to cost the district money.
Great Bend’s actual enrollment was 2,940 in 2015-2016 and 2,778 in 2016-2017. The 2,900 estimate for 2017-2018 reflects the fact that full-day kindergarten will be in effect this year; previously, kindergarten was funded for half a day and each kindergartner counted as half a student.
Meanwhile, the district’s valuation has risen. This mean’s Great Bend is now considered a wealthier district, which means there will be less state aid, Thexton said.
Thexton presented the budget overview at a special school board meeting Thursday morning. The board approved a budget for publication in the Great Bend Tribune and scheduled a public budget hearing for 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22, at the District Education Center, 201 S. Patton Road.
The district’s proposed budget can be seen in the legal notices on page 10 of the Aug. 11, 2017, Great Bend Tribune.
This story was modified on Aug. 11 to correct the Aug. 22 hearing date.