USD 333 board hears funding report

 A bill passed by the Kansas Legislature to increase funding for the poorer school districts in the state does offer some good news for Unified School District 333.
 USD 333 superintendent of schools Bev Mortimer outlined the plan for the board of education during its monthly meeting Monday night.
 The legislature passed the bill following, after the Kansas Supreme Court ruled in March that the funding disparities between the school districts violated the state Constitution.
 Governor Sam Brownback has not yet signed the bill.
 The bill increases the base state aid per pupil (BSAPP) by $14 per student from $3,838 to $3,852.
 Based on the current student enrollment of USD 333 that would be a general fund increase of $22,181.
 Reductions in at-risk spending and non-proficient spending, would leave the district with $2,443 in new money for the general fund.
 “I am not excited about it. I am not happy about it, but it is the first time in a long time it hasn't been negative,” Mortimer said.
 The bill does provide some property tax relief for the district with additional Local Option Budget (LOB) and capital outlay funding.
 “It is a mill levy reduction. It is a property tax reduction,” Mortimer said.
 The proposed property tax relief, based on current enrollment, is $282,499.
 There is also an additional LOB classroom fund that would provide an additional $27,000. That is good for just two years.
 The bill does give school districts the opportunity to increase the LOB from 30 percent to 33 percent if approved by the patrons by a mail ballot election.
“I won't do that unless you tell me to do that,” Mortimer told the board members, “I don't want to go back to the voters and ask them to raise their taxes again.”
 Also during  the meeting, the board heard a report from Mortimer and librarian Lora Watson on the opportunity for a rural development grant to help remodel the library at the Concordia Junior-Senior High School building.
 Mortimer said that she had been informed that, based on median household incomes, the district would qualify for a grant for the project.
 The grant the district will apply for is for $25,000 with the district match of $20,000.
 “I think our odds are pretty good for that,” Mortimer said.
 Mortimer said that some of the matching money could come from the funds received from the sale of Lincoln School.
 Watson was asked to come up with a plan for the project. She visited the libraries at Chapman and Manhattan.
 Included in the possible remodel would be an electrical overhaul of the library, new flooring, some new shelves, new furniture, some new laptops and computers that stay in the library, an interactive instruction area, moving the circulation desk to the middle of the room and reversing the entrance/exit door at the south end so it meets fire codes.
Mortimer said that with the grant, and the matching funds, the district could do the electrical, the flooring, the computers, a large television for the interactive instruction area and the new circulation desk.
 “We will probably run out of money on shelves,” Mortimer said.
 In action items during the meeting, the board accepted the resignations of Learning Cooperative of North Central Kansas (LCNCK) interrelated teachers Lisa Wunderlee, Christa Bergmann and Carol McKenna.
 The board approved the transfer of Desere Miller from fourth grade teacher to LCNCK interrelated teacher.
 Also, curriculum handbook revisions and the Kansas Association of School Board membership and legal assistance fund for 2014-15 were approved.

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