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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • USD 373 proposes mill levy drop

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  • There were a lot of numbers to look at during a budget presentation at the USD 373 board of education meeting — though the board requested a short overview from district staff Monday night.
    Some of the board entered the meeting with plenty of information already — in addition to reviewing a budget book given in advance, some met with district staff prior to the meeting.
    "I flogged Russ (Miller, assistant superintendent of finance) for an hour the other day," said board member Matt Treaster.
    Miller said he had met with three different board members prior to Monday's overview.
    This budget is a good news, bad news budget. The good news for tax payers is a proposed reduction in the mill levy. The bad news is the district may need to spend nearly a third of reserve funds next year.
    Those budget moves are the result in changes to the state funding formula. Newton lost about 37 students which were counted for at risk weighting last year, due to changes in the state formula.
    "It was not nice to USD 373," said Matt Morford, Director of Business Services. "We lost a lot of at risk funding. We can no longer count part time students from St. Mary or part time of our own students for at risk funding."
    The total budget, as approved for publication, is about $250,000 less than the 2013-14 budget. It includes spending up to $400,000 of reserve funds. Currently district has about $1.3 million in reserves.
    The total mill levy is projected at 52.23 mills, a drop of about five mills from the previous budget. At the same time, the district proposes raising the capital outlay mill levy to its legal maximum of eight mills.
    The mill levy drop is the result of increased state aid in the local option budget, which is set as a percentage of the total budget.
    "We lost 10 mills in the LOB," Morford said.
    The biggest line items of the budget are $14 million for instruction and $3.5 million for maintenance.
    The board voted 6-0 to approved the budget for publication. Renee Erickson was absent. The board will host a public hearing on the budget Aug. 25.
    In other business the board: • Approved a fee structure for information requests. • Unanimously approved a new handbook for classified staff. • Unanimously approved a new handbook for district administrators • Accepted a donation on behalf of South Breeze Elementary of $400 from Kansas Jobs Daughters to be used for purchasing an iPad for the IDD classroom at South Breeze Elementary.

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