The Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education held a brief special meeting Friday to hold a public budget hearing and then approve the budget.
As noted when the board first published the proposed budget, the estimated tax rate of 41.306 mills is comparable to last year’s actual rate of 41.301 mills. The amount to be levied is $6,421,865.
Superintendent Khris Thexton and Assistant Superintendent John Popp provided budget information. Popp said the mill levy dropped in 2018-2019 after the last bond issue came off the tax roll. A year earlier, the mill levy in 2017-2018 was 46.031.
Thexton said a “summary of expenditures” table that shows USD 428 spending $19,202 per pupil is misleading, in part because it includes 100 percent of capital outlay, including $6 million that is already in the bank.
“The $19,202 per pupil is elevated,” Popp said. The same table shows total expenditures per pupil are budgeted at $16,019 when capital outlay is removed. But that number is also elevated.
The amount budgeted is greater than the amount that will actually be spent, Popp said. “You can see that traditionally we don’t spend all of that money.” Last year the amount per pupil spent came to $13,802 per pupil, also shown on the table referenced.
Thexton said USD 428 budget figures are also skewed by the fact that Great Bend is the host district to Barton County Special Services Cooperative (BCSSC), which provides special education services to other four school districts and to the private schools in Great Bend. The budget shows all of the expense for staff but USD 428 is not allowed to include the students served in other schools in its own full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment numbers. BCSSC serves 550 students in Great Bend and nearly 300 students outside the district.
“This inflates our FTE spending figure even though the other districts reimburse us for some of the cost,” Popp said.
A handout provided at the budget hearing summed it up by saying, “Per-pupil spending has remained flat at roughly $13,000 per student and is a good predictor of where our district will end the school year.”
Other budget information
The handout from the meeting also noted:
• Classroom instruction is 70 percent of the expenses in the budget.
• The district has an annual payroll budgeted at $37 million. Teachers received an across-the-board raise of 4.5% for the 2019-2020 school year.
• Total revenue to be collected comes to $15,292 per pupil. The budget breakdown is: 10% federal funding, 20% local funding, 70% state funding.