Wichita School Board Recaps Budget Proposal

By: Lily Wu - Email
By: Lily Wu - Email

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Monday, July 18, 2011

"I still have to admit, it's depressing but no great surprises," said Betty Arnold, Wichita Public Schools Board president, about Monday night's meeting.

Members discussed all the factors leading up to the $606 million dollar budget recommendation, which is $26 million lower than last year.

Wichita Public Schools superintendent John Allison explained a graph that showed 87.45% of the operating budget directly support students.

"That's where our investment should be and where we've made that. I think that's very plain to see when you see how it's broken up, particularly graphically, where dollars go is towards student achievement," said Allison.

Another graph showed that Wichita school tax rate is currently the lowest for homeowners in the area. The annual tax cost for homeowners with a $100,000 home was $1,423. The board proposal is to keep tax rates flat for the third straight year.

"We look at a budget that would not increase the tax burden on the community, so that's a key piece in the budget that will be proposed," said Allison.

The board also discussed some challenges regarding staffing. District administration has been reduced by 35% over the last two years.

"We want to see our schools improve. We want this, we want that, yet we take away the necessary tools that are needed in order to do this task. It's a huge concern for me," said Arnold.

More challenges from the state are predicted for the 2012-2013 budget.

"Right now, unfortunately, it doesn't seem that education is an area that they see as an investment for the future, which is very shortsighted," said Allison.

The board is scheduled to vote on the budget that will be published in the district's newspaper of record on July 25.

The official public hearing and scheduled board vote on approval of the 2011-2012 budget is scheduled for Aug. 8.

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