Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
How much revenue will the new operating levy generate and what will be paid by the state in equalization funds?
The current Kimball Schools' operating levy referendum amount of $275 per pupil generates levy revenues of $243,388.75 yearly. In order to calculate this amount, take the levy amount of $275 and multiply it by the number of resident students living in the Kimball district, regardless of where they attend school, currently 885.05. A new operating levy referendum amount of $550 per pupil will generate approximately $486,777.50 in yearly revenue.
The Kimball Schools' 2008-2009 budget was approximately $8 million. That's how much money flowed into the school district in revenue and right back out again in expenditures throughout the course of that year. Preliminary 2008-2009 audit figures show that close to 70 percent of budget expenses went to support regular, special ed., and vocational instruction.
The current operating levy referendum amount of $275 per pupil generates roughly 3 percent of the revenue the school needs to operate.
Over the last three budget cycles alone $788,450 in cuts have been made. Of this $600,000 of the cuts have come from teaching staff. Other cuts have included the elimination of paraprofessional staff, reduced budgets for instructional supplies and staff development and a reduction in course offerings. Without an increase in referendum revenue, additional cuts will need to be made yearly to balance the budget. These cuts will be similar to what has happened in the last three years. Instruction is typically the hardest hit because it constitutes such a large percentage of the budget.
The district wants to provide a quality education to local students. The community wants a comparable education to neighboring districts. We expect our students to perform on the same level as neighboring districts. However, neighboring districts have had higher operating levy referendums for years and some are seeking to increase their referendums even more. They are hoping to avoid making the types of budget cuts that have become the norm in Kimball. It is going to become increasingly difficult to provide a quality, comparable education if the gap in revenue between Kimball and neighboring districts gets even larger.
One bright spot is equalization funding. If the new operating levy referendum passes, only 57 percent will be paid by local taxpayers. The state will be responsible for paying the remaining 43 percent. Local taxpayers will only have to pay a little over half of the new operating levy referendum. Equalization funding has been around since the early 1990s. The state instituted it because they acknowledged that not all districts have the same property tax wealth, so many districts receive help from the state when paying levy referendums.
However, if you don't pass a levy - you don't get the equalization funds. The state created the need for local operating levy referendums through inadequate, flat funding, but they won't just give districts the money. Instead, they make the district ask local taxpayers for additional revenue and then they swoop in and provide equalization funding. It's a shell game the state plays, and it only shifts the responsibility for a quality education away from the state and onto the local taxpayer. At this point, however, it is certainly a nice carrot that is being offered by the state and one that local taxpayers will hopefully find attractive.