By JIM MISUNAS
ROZEL — Pawnee Heights USD 496 Superintendent Danny Binder was pleasantly surprised. Voters in one of the state’s smallest school districts passed a motion to maintain its local option budget authority at 33 percent. With a 60 percent turnout, 89 percent voted for the measure.
The motion asked voters —
“Shall the Board of Education of Unified School District No. 496, Pawnee County, State of Kansas, be authorized to maintain its local option budget authority of 33 percent of its state financial aid?”
Had voters not passed the measure, the local budget authority would have dropped to 31 percent of its state financial aid. The extra 2 percent amounts to about $30,000 in funding for the district.
“When you see 90 percent approval, we realize what a supportive community we have,” Binder said. “They definitely define their Pawnee Heights community by their school. Some of them have never had kids in the district, but the school is really important to them. A 60 percent turnout for a mail ballot is overwhelming support.”
USD 496 board members approved sending out a letter and brochure to inform voters about the vote.
Binder said recent legislative measures allowed districts to levy a 31 percent rate, then 33 percent, pending board approval, and eventually pending voter approval.
“The decision by the voters gives the district a “permanent,” and continuous assessment of local taxes,” Binder said.
Binder said Smith Center has passed authority to maintain a 33 percent rate.
USD 496 voters on April 7 will vote on four unopposed school board positions — Position 1-1—Cory Reece; Position 2-2—Laurie J. Josefiak; Position 2-4—Kevin Milch; Position 7—Rochelle Miller.