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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

School board to get first look a new budget

By Suzanne Perez Tobias
The Wichita Eagle

Wichita school board members will get their first look Monday at Superintendent John Allison’s budget for the coming school year.

Few details are known about the budget, including whether it will include a raise for teachers, since contract negotiations with the local teachers union are ongoing.

During a preliminary budget presentation earlier this month, Allison said the district expects about $25 million in additional funding from various sources, including a $4.2 million increase in the base per-pupil state aid.

Allison told board members it “appears like a better year” budget-wise, after several consecutive years of cuts to staff and programs.

Last year, the board sliced about $27 million from its budget, eliminating high school librarians and the elementary school orchestra program, closing Blackbear Bosin Academy and reducing technology spending.

Allison told board members at the last meeting that he expects fixed costs to go up nearly $12.7 million for such things as fuel, utilities and additional staff for bilingual and special-education students.

The board is expected to vote on the budget at its Aug. 13 meeting. A public hearing and final vote are scheduled for Aug. 27.

Also Monday, representatives of the school district and United Teachers of Wichita are scheduled to resume contract talks with a federal mediator. A new contract for the district’s 4,000 teachers is set to begin Aug. 1.

The school board meets at 6 p.m. Monday in the North High School lecture hall, 1437 N. Rochester.

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com.

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