Legislative action to comply with a Kansas Supreme Court order to fund schools equitably made a number of changes, and during the USD 250 Board of Education meeting Monday, Superintendent Destry Brown outlined what this means for the district’s dollars.
Brown said base state aid per pupil (BSAPP) is increasing by $14 per pupil, from $3,838 to $3,852, but came with some restrictions, including taking out money allocated for students who do not score at the proficient level on standardized testing, as well as not allowing districts to count virtual students in their local option budgets.
Additionally, Brown said the bill allows districts to increase their local option budgets from 30 percent to 33 percent, but only after doing a mail-ballot election to make the jump past 30 percent, which is where Pittsburg’s LOB currently stands.
In the end, BSAPP minus reductions in the ability to count some students means a net gain of $5,692 for USD 250, and changes to capital outlay and LOB aid primarily help the district to level out funds that were restructured during the Great Recession, for a total gain of about $222,000, as well as $611,079 in property tax relief.
"That is all money that will go back to taxpayers through a tax reduction," Brown said of the $611,079.
However, he said that could help both the districts and taxpayers.
"$611,000 would be a little less than 5 mills that we could decrease," Brown said, adding that even if some were retained and bond payments increased, two or three mills of property tax relief could be helpful.
Brown also updated the board on work toward a Career and Technical Education Center.
"We have been trying to find a building that would be able to house a group of different programs," Brown said.
These include HVAC, welding, masonry, carpentry and culinary arts through Fort Scott Community College, as well as automotive and electrical programs through Pittsburg State University.
"We have talked about purchasing a building at the industrial park," Brown said. "We would have to add on to that building."
He said there is a possibility that a private donor might help funding come through, and that if it does the property would likely be owned by an entity called Crawford County Workforce Coalition.
In other business, the board also:
• Heard concerns from Sandy Stallings about books donated to area libraries, including PHS, by the National Organization for Women about LGBT lifestyles.
"I don’t think that our high school needs those types of books inside of it," Stallings said. "After all, it’s only for promoting their agenda."
Brown said he understood the concern and would look into whether any books had been donated that would be objectionable, and if so he said there is a challenge process the books could be taken through.
"I haven’t seen the books and I don’t know what is in them," Brown said, adding that his job is to be there for every family. "I’m there to educate their kid and do the best for their kids."
• Received an update from board member Joan Fields on budget stations for special education
• Heard from staff members Chris Garzone and Phil Jay about a program called A.L.I.C.E., which gives groups tools to help survive situations such as an active shooter.
• Authorized republishing the budget to allow the district to spend additional funds. The previously published budget was based on the prior year’s numbers and increases in FTE have provided funds above what was budgeted to be spent. Board members clarified that this does not increase mill levy, just total spending authority.
• Purchased curriculum for a number of subjects at all levels for a price of $226,574.65, with Assistant Superintendent Brian Biermann noting that the companies also threw in $117,000 in gratis materials.
• Approved expenditures for Kansas Association of School Boards membership for $11,477 and related KASB legal assistance for $1,650.
• Accepted a bid from Ryan Insurance for property/liability/auto and workers comp insurance policies through EMC for a total of $284,240.
• Signed off on the county’s multi-hazard mitigation plan.