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District budget down $800,000

By Bethany Knipp

It looks like the school district’s operating budget will drop by nearly $800,000, according to projections released Wednesday evening at a USD 383 board of education meeting.

The budget for the district’s two operational funds for the 2015 fiscal year could be $796,399 less than the 2014 fiscal year, which ended June 30.

That means USD 383’s operational budgets, which include its General Fund and Local Option Budget, would go from a total of about $48.5 million to $47.7 million.

“Overall, the fiscal year ‘15 budget is going to be tight, and it’s going to be fully committed,” USD 383 director of business services Lew Faust said after the school board meeting.

The reasons for that decrease include reduced enrollment numbers, primarily because Fort Riley students weren’t coming in as they were projected to last year.

Other concerns include a loss of 100 students, from 300 to 200, in the district’s online education program because of a switch this year to Manhattan’s own online academy.

With Kansas House Bill 2506, funding for at-risk and at-risk proficient students also was either dropped or reduced.

“We’re going to be facing some really difficult choices down the road and it’s going to be choices like what do we do for pre-K when our primary responsibility is K-12,” board member Dave Colburn said. He said those choices will be coming in the near future. “Maybe not this year, but they’re coming,” he said.

The school board will continue its budget discussion on July 16. A final budget will be submitted to the Riley County Clerk’s Office and the Kansas Department of Education on Aug. 22 after several work sessions.

The following are a few other budget issues the board discussed:

• The district will have to find resources to fund an extra $800,000 next year because of budget adjustments, including in enrollment. Some other adjustments include an additional special education resource teacher at Ogden Elementary and a combination agricultural science and science teaching position at Manhattan High School. Utilities also have gone up. The cost of electricity is projected to increase by $50,000, water by $35,000 and telephone service by $40,000, among other increases.

“We added a lot of space. It’s costing us more to heat, cool, light all of the square footage that we added in the bond issue. It’s had an impact on us,” Faust said.

In the past few years, the district added a wing to Manhattan High School and added space at Lee, Marlatt and Ogden elementary schools along with other school improvements across the district.

• Faust also informed the school board that there was a 28.3-percent decrease in total assessed personal property valuation from Riley and Pottawatomie counties, where USD 383 has students.

He said that came from the way commercial vehicles were switched from being taxed to having a registration fee and a change in taxation for watercraft vehicles.

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