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USD 428 proposes half-mill tax increase
Teachers ready for first day of school
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Great Bend USD 428 has proposed a budget for the coming year. If approved, local property owners will see their tax rate increase by about one-half of a mill.
The school board met Monday and approved the publication of a budget proposed by the administration. Information will appear in the public notices of Wednesday’s Great Bend Tribune. The board will hold a public budget hearing at 7:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 24, at the District Education Center, and will then approve the budget officially.
The estimated tax rate will be 45.87 mills, compared to 45.28 mills a year ago. Superintendent Brad Reed said the rate was “really reasonable.” He has heard of districts that are increasing local tax rates by 14 or 15 mills to make up for state budget cuts, he said. “When you’re talking about half a mill, we’re in good shape.”
USD 428 is also in good shape when it comes to teaching staff, administrators said.
Assistant Administrator John Popp said there were 41 teachers at the “new teacher orientation” last week. About half of them are experienced teachers.
Reed added he is pleased with all of the new teachers. “We are fully staffed and we’re staffed with really good people.”
Meanwhile, public schools across the state have about 400 unfilled teacher positions, Reed said, adding that is more than double the amount of a typical year.
“We’re on the verge of having a real teacher shortage in Kansas,” he said. One reason for that is because a number of teachers from the Baby Boomer generation are getting ready to retire, but Reed said Kansas is also losing teachers because the Legislature is making teaching unattractive. When it comes to teacher salaries, for example, Kansas ranks 42nd in the nation.
“We are not valuing our teachers,” Reed said.
USD 428 does value its teachers, Reed said. They will be welcomed back this Thursday with a breakfast, two nationally recognized speakers, and a Business Showcase organized with help from the Chamber of Commerce. Fifty local businesses will have booths in the Great Bend High School Gym, with specials for district employees.
The first day of school will be Monday, Aug. 17.

In other action, the board
• Accepted federal Title I funds totaling $1.162 million, which is down from last year’s $1.175 million. Title I programs help at-risk students.
• Approved the attorney contract for Watkins, Calcara Chtd. The firm provides legal services for the district; this action approved a $10 per hour rate increase.
• Met in executive session for 30 minutes, to discuss negotiations.
• Accepted the resignation of Alicia Forsyth, first-grade teacher at Riley Elementary School, and approved the appointment of Lacy Hammack to that position.
• Approved 18 policy revisions and two new policies (dealing with complaints of discrimination and financial literacy).