Great Bend USD 428 has proposed a budget that exceeds last year’s in local tax collections, Superintendent Khris Thexton said Monday. The school board approved publishing a budget notice in the Great Bend Tribune. The next school board meeting, at 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12, will start with a Revenue Neutral Rate hearing and a budget hearing for the purpose of hearing and answering objections of taxpayers relating to the proposed use of all funds and the amount of tax to be levied.
The USD 428 budget starts with 20 mills for the general budget – the same amount levied by all public school districts every year. Then there is the Supplemental General budget, also known as the Local Option Budget (LOB). This year’s LOB was 14.632 mills and the estimated rate for the proposed budget is 13.840 mills.
The district is proposing a tax rate of 8.0 mills for capital outlay, compared to 6.492 mills in 2021-2022 and 6.532 mills in 2020-2021.
That brings the total estimated tax rate to 41.840 mills, compared to 41.124 mills last year. The district valuation has increased, so this is expected to generate $6,664,453 in taxes, compared to $6,374,353 last year and $6,281,231 the year before.
“It’s an increase in taxes but the mill rate is close (to last year),” Thexton said.
Thexton noted that the new Support Services Facility is being paid for using Capital Outlay Funds. The school district spent $1.55 million to buy the property and on Monday approved a guaranteed maximum price of $4.8 million for renovations (see related story).
Board member Deanna Essmiller asked how much money is in the Capital Outlay fund and how much is recommended.
As of July 1, there was $9.1 million in the fund, Thexton said.
Assistant Superintendent John Popp the district has been building up the fund for several years. After the last bond election, administrators heard from taxpayers that they preferred this method of financing for many projects. The Panther Activity Center, for example, was a Capital Outlay project.
Thexton added that a 10-15% contingency reserve is recommended.
Rec Commission Budget
The legal publication of the proposed budget will also show taxes to be levied for the Great Bend Recreation Commission. Thexton noted that these funds are not tied to the district budget in any way but are passed through to GBRC. That entity is calling for an estimated tax rate of 9.750 mills (8 for the Rec Commission and 1.75 for employee benefits). That is an increase of 1.0 mills and the taxes to be collected by GBRC are estimated at $1,689,077.
Meeting at a glance
Here’s a quick look at Monday’s USD 428 Board of Education meeting:
• The board heard presentations from Human Resources Director Tonya Miller on an employee referral program and on the Food Service Job Fair held on July 28.
• Assistant Superintendent John Popp reported on the success of the district’s Mental Health Initiative Team.
• The Guaranteed Maximum Price for renovating the support services building on 10th Street was approved (see related story).
• The budget was approved for publication, with a public hearing set for Sept. 12 (see above).
• On a 5-2 vote, the board approved utilizing PAPER-brand online tutoring for 12 months, at a cost of $101,447.64. Federal ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund) money will pay for the program that provides students with 24/7 homework help in English and Spanish. Board members Deanna Essmiller and Chad Burroughs voted no, although both said they were not totally opposed to the idea. Administrators said they will report on results as the school year progresses.
• The board approved a donation of books in English and Spanish from the Great Bend Kiwanis club for pre-K and kindergarten classrooms, part of a statewide Kiwanis project, and accepted a donation from the GBHS Booster Club of $1,665.50 to the Activities Department to purchase cheerleader poms.
• One new teacher appointment was approved. Lakin Heitschmidt will teach special education at Riley Elementary School. She is earning her license through the transition to teaching program. Assistant Superintendent Popp said all teaching positions are full going into the 2022-2023 school year.
• Executive sessions were held to discuss personnel (an individual employee’s performance was discussed) and to discuss potential properties for district use and preliminary discussion of the acquisition of real property.