USD 489 statement on school funding compromise
Submitted by Hays USD 489
Over the past five years, USD 489 has experienced a significant reduction in funding from the state. As a result, the district is faced with a cumulative deficit of $1.3 million, at the start of the next fiscal year. Over that time, USD 489 has focused on making reductions in program funding, classroom budgets, teacher in-service budgets, student activity budgets, delays in capital improvements and infrastructure updates and staff reductions through attrition. All of these steps made in an effort to preserve quality instruction and maintain staff positions that support that instruction. As the shift in funding reductions occurred, many of these programs and opportunities became reliant on the support of home and school groups, PTA, boosters, and other external fundraising activities.
The focus of USD 489 has always been student success. Even in the current climate of school funding legislation, the administrative decisions have focused on student achievement. While making reductions in some programs is necessary, the goal has remained to preserve programs when at all possible.
At present, with the new school finance formula, Hays will see an increase in the base state aid per pupil. However, the new facilities weighting from the expansions at Hays Middle School will be eliminated. The new legislation would also allow the Board of Education to pass a resolution to permit the school district to utilize funds that currently have to be expended from the general fund to capital outlay. This is not new or additional money, it just allows for flexibility by a shift in expenditures. Therefore, USD 489 will again be faced with a net loss in funding for the overall budget from the state legislature.
Currently, USD 489 is considering multiple options to reduce the funding deficit; including but not limited to an increase in the workbook and materials fee, a possible transportation fee for riding the bus within the 2.5 mile radius of an attendance center, a possible reduction in transportation services district wide, participation fees for activities, and program and personnel reductions. These scenarios, at this time, are still subject to Board approval.
USD 489 is also recommending a reduction of 16 certified staff (13.9 FTE). The staff members that may be affected have been notified by administration over the past week. This action is not official until the Board of Education adopts a resolution to non-renew these contracts. In addition, classified positions have also been affected. Through attrition the district has currently seen a reduction of 3 FTE, with additional reductions anticipated district-wide.
The only revenue enhancement USD 489 could see, would be to increase the Local Option Budget (LOB), bringing funding back to the local level. Currently USD 489 utilizes 30 percent of the LOB; with the new legislation, it would allow the district to access up to 33 percent, approximately increasing funding by $650,000, if utilizing the maximum. In order to realize the increase in the LOB, the Board of Education would have to adopt a resolution and a mail ballot election would be held to approve the increase in the LOB for additional funding.
“During these challenging times in education, the Board of Education and the Administration of USD 489 continue to strive to provide the best education for our students. There is no doubt that more difficult decisions loom in the near future, but USD 489 continues to pride itself on the support of the quality staff and the community that dedicates themselves to the education of children every day,” said Dean Katt, Hays USD 489 superintendent.