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School budget ready for approval
Public budget hearing Aug. 15
new slt school board
Teachers new to Great Bend USD 428 this fall attend an orientation class, Wednesday morning at the District Education Center. There are 35 new teachers, but only 14 of those are new to the teaching profession. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

The mill levy collected from property owners in Great Bend USD 428 shouldn’t change much at all for 2016-2017, school administrators said Wednesday. The actual tax rate for 2015-2016 was 45.866 mills, and the estimated tax rate for the proposed budget is 45.834 mills.
Administrators said they prefer to keep the mill levy at a flat level rather than have it swing up and down. So, while the mill levy for the supplemental budget is coming down, the mill levy for the capital outlay budget will increase.
The school board met Wednesday morning to approve publication of a budget, which can be found in the legal notices in the Great Bend Tribune.

The breakdown
The statewide mill levy for the general fund remains unchanged at 20 mills. The district also levies local taxes for the supplemental fund – also known as the Local Option Budget or LOB – for capital outlay, and for bond and interest payments.
Last year the tax rate for the LOB was almost 17 mills, and the estimate for this year is 14.3 mills. That savings to taxpayers came after the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling that resulted in changes to the state’s funding formula.
Last year the district’s capital outlay tax was 3.999 mills, and it will increase to 6.5 mills this year.
The mill levy for bonds will increase by 0.126 mills, from 4.896 to 5.002. Although the district will realize savings for its recent decision to refinance at a lower interest rate, that savings won’t show up until next year.
Assistant Superintendent Khris Thexton said the budget documents had been approved this week with the Kansas Department of Education.
“We got a lot of compliments on how fiscally sound our budget is,” he said. Both Thexton and Superintendent Brad Reed said the district’s goal is to keep the tax level flat while meeting the needs of the school district.
“We like the budget,” Reed said. “We think it allows us to do everything we need to do.”

The board also approved some personnel changes Wednesday.
Miriam Buckley, the English Language Arts (ELA) instructional coach at Lincoln Elementary School, was allowed to resign even though her request came after the deadline, and Stacy Novak was hired to fill her position.
John Ladwig, who was hired to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) at Riley Elementary, has accepted a job elsewhere. Reed said Buckley will not be charged a fine for her late resignation, but Ladwig will be fined $500 for breaking his contract.

New teachers
Assistant Superintendent John Popp said new teacher orientation was also scheduled for Wednesday morning and was starting about the same time the school board meeting ended. Some board members stayed to greet the teachers.
The district has 35 new teachers, including three that have worked in Great Bend previously and are returning. Only 14 of the 35 are new to the profession of teaching.